Bangladesh: Worrying signs rearhead for another farcical election

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Nov 27, 2023    New Age

WHAT has so far happened on the electoral fray betrays clear signs of another round of farcical elections that could look participatory but would, in effect, be one-sided. The Election Commission is in the thick of the election process, with the submission of nomination papers closing on November 30 and the election having been scheduled for January 7, while the government has arrested almost all ranking leaders of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, the largest in the opposition camp and, in effect, the only credible opposition, and the rest of leaders and activists, even at grass roots, are on the run to avert arrest. With the Bangladesh Nationalist Party still out of the fray in the absence of any move by the commission or the government to resolve the political impasse, the ruling Awami League has been busy meeting partners in its alliance on the sharing of seats. While partners in the alliance, formed in 2005, that the Awami League leads are willing, as has been reported, to take part in the election under the alliance with the Awami League’s election symbol, the Awami League now says that the partners may take part in the elections independently with their own symbol. This essentially appears a ploy to make the election look participatory.

The Awami League’s general secretary’s statement of November 24 that the party is not so serious about the political alliance in seat sharing corroborates this proposition. But that is not all. The Awami League is also meeting, as allegations have it, some small parties, including the newly floated Trinamool BNP and the Bangladesh Nationalist Movement, which has come to be known as ‘king’s party’, and some Islamic parties, some of them are little-known, to become the opposition in the parliament although the Awami League or the parties that the Awami League meets have yet to make any formal statements on the issue. What happens in this is that the Awami League is said to have used ploys to create rift in parties in the opposition to create small parties that could become the opposition in the parliament. A senior joint secretary general of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party is reported to have said on November 24 that the Awami League government has created new political parties by hiring people from other political parties with the help of state agencies. What is shocking about this is that the Awami League appears to be doing what military rulers in the East Pakistan days and post-liberation Bangladesh used to do by using such ploys to create rift in political parties to create small ones to their benefits.

Signs that rear their head for farcical elections — one-sided, non-participatory and non-inclusive — and what the ruling Awami League is said to be doing to make the parliamentary elections look what they would, in effect, be are both absolutely unacceptable as this will further debase and vitiate the political culture. Such propositions would not augur well for the nation.