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বাংলা
Dhaka Tribune

Not so helpless

Update : 11 Apr 2014, 07:28 PM

A stranger could be confused in ascertaining the party affiliations of a few Awami League leaders if some of their recent comments were to be printed anonymously. It would seem like these AL leaders have fallen in love with the BNP. Sometimes their ultra-sympathetic views of the rival political party would bear notes of sarcasm.

The crux of the statement is: “The BNP has made a blunder by not contesting the 10th parliamentary polls.” They callously referred to the ballot being plagued by political corruption topped by other controversies – non-inclusive, non-participatory, unfair, biased, rigged, and statistically manipulated.

It was not credible to anyone else, save the accused party – the AL with one-party Baksal legacy, and its allies like ex-autocratic rulers and derailed revolutionaries.

The British Conservative Party doesn’t express this kind of concern for the Labour Party, nor do US Republicans for rival Democrats. But, the AL leaders exercised their liberty to advise the most suitable political course of action for the BNP.

If they had a democratic heart, they could have stopped the BNP chairperson from committing such a “mistake” by allowing a level-playing field for elections.

The AL leaders can still offer, as they were committed to, a dialogue to work out a formula to ensure free and fair elections. It would have been a most precious gift to Khaleda Zia.

Oh sorry! They shall certainly not invite an electoral defeat. So, what are the options left for the BNP chief – except mobilising the masses for a greater movement, demanding a good election?

The recent upazila polls have boosted the morale of the BNP leadership. Wherever the elections were relatively fair, BNP-backed candidates proved to be more popular.

Also, desperate manipulation, intimidation with precision, targeted violence, and massive rigging by the ruling partymen in connivance with officials, have once more justified the BNP demand for a non-party interim administration for overseeing general elections.

A certain AL advocate should now swallow his own words. He said that an environment for holding dialogue would be created upon completion of the upazila polls. What would be the excuse for such deceptive remarks?

One of his party colleagues warned that the hands and legs of BNP leaders and activists would be cut off, should they wage a movement next time. The prime minister and AL president reportedly asked the police to update the list of “terrorists” of the BNP-Jamaat alliance.

We dare to ask: What about the mobsters and goons within the ruling party?

There is a feeling that efforts are underway to tame the opposition before any future anti-government agitation. Sorry to be blunt, but coercion seems to be the one and only method to cling on to power.

For obvious reasons, through this process the ruling party is getting alienated from all its support bases and has become hostage to a single force.

The vigorous voices of opinion leaders who keep finding more faults in BNP’s demonstrations, have become considerably subdued when referring to the electoral crimes of the AL.

The AL top leaders have been exposed after pushing the BNP to nowhere. All activities of the government and ruling party – be it corruption, extortion, heated bouts between ministers, or campus violence – are under public scrutiny.

We feel the eventual result of public dissection is a state of disgust in the enlightened mind.

Recent job shrinkage at home and abroad, increasing utility tariffs, rising inflation, stagnation in investment and business opportunities, low levels of investors’ confidence, poor economic governance, and probable effects of drastic revenue fall on development and welfare can be listed as ominous signs for Hasina’s government.

A dwindling economy is like a lifestyle disease that grows and metastasises within the body with insidious precision.

The BNP has no responsibility of taking fiscal and regulatory measures to bring an economic recovery. It is also not in charge of weighing who is more patriotic.

The current situation offers it a lot of options to outsmart an illegitimate regime.

Today’s movement for democracy is not limited to street protest in the capital. Rural bazars and roads, highways, headquarters of national and international organisations, court premises and campuses, professional bodies, socio-cultural and developmental organisations, global cities of higher concentration of diasporas, social media, and other new and conventional media outlets are all platforms for an all-pervasive movement.

Any crackdown on the “helpless” BNP men could compel them to organise thousands of farewell receptions to the incumbents. In the face of repressive measures, Khaleda Zia may be forced to shift her position from one court to another to quarantine Dhaka at one stage.

She has the luxury of consolidating her party’s alignments with other stakeholders, and negotiating with civic forums, power brokers, and foreign friends before the final push.

However, the BNP’s ultimate recourse lies not with jugglery but with the will of the owners of the republic. Why would the people support and join a BNP-sponsored movement? The BNP leadership should submit a manifesto detailing what the party will do for Bangladesh and Bangladeshis. A national movement could then be relevant to the masses. 

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