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Dhaka Tribune

Bangabandhu’s dream for Bangladesh

Update : 18 Aug 2017, 02:16 PM

Every year, August 15 brings to our nation a reminder of our dark history -- one tainted by the atrocity and injustice wreaked upon Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his nearest and dearest, in 1975.

While the country mourns the untimely loss of the Father of the Nation, a victim of an unprecedented carnage, we also celebrate his extraordinary achievements in life, and his dream for an independent and prosperous land for Bangalis.

We also remember the tremendous sacrifices he made for the sake of his people.

Bangabandhu spent more than 13 years in a Pakistani prison, out of the 24 years that the two Pakistans -- East and West -- had been in existence.

Finally, on March 7, 1971, he declared his desire for the freedom and independence of his people in a historic speech to millions of Bangalis at the Dhaka Race Course grounds.

But the enemies of liberation had different plans for the future. Pakistani armed forces began a bloodbath in Dhaka and other large cities on March 25, 1971. The Liberation War commenced immediately on March 26, with Bangabandhu’s declaration of independence.

The nation of Bangladesh was liberated from occupied forces on December 16, 1971.

During the nine months of war, the nation lost about three million people and more than 200,000 women lost their dignity at the hands of enemy forces.

We know well that after the brutal killing spree staged by some rough and inhuman members of the then armed forces of Bangladesh in 1975, the nation was subjected to military rule by two generals, Ziaur Rahman and HM Ershad, for 15 years, until 1990.

The AL should put more effort on positive campaigning, by focusing on its achievements in the areas of development, democracy, and decentralisation over the last two terms

The three Ds of prosperity

For any nation, the three Ds -- development, democracy, and decentralisation -- are essential attendants on the road to prosperity.

After 1991, the nation has been experiencing democracy’s roller-coaster ride, including a two year military-backed, hand-picked civilian regime duiring 2006-08.

However, in 2009, a democratically-elected government came to power in a landslide victory, led by Sheikh Hasina, daughter of Bangabandhu.

Since then, she and her administration have been committed to the three Ds of prosperity.

The next general election is due in a year and a half, and all eyes are on the democracy element of the three Ds at the moment.

A voter’s dilemma

Pre-election tensions between the incumbent and opposition parties outside parliament suggest that the voters will be facing a dilemma in exercising their voting right at the 11th parliamentary election in 2018/19.

On the one hand, since the 14-party alliance led by the Awami League has been in power for two consecutive terms, the so-called “incumbency” factor is likely to be a challenge for them.

Voters are more likely to be undecided at the ballot box and it is also going to be a daunting task for the AL-led alliance to attract floating voters.

The opposition (members of the alliance led by the BNP), on the other hand, are going to face great difficulty attracting voters (floating and new), because of how the BNP-Jamaat alliance turned the whole nation into an inferno in the name of a movement to dislodge the AL government in 2014.

Floating voters would hesitate to trust them so soon, due mainly to their lack of commitment in controlling militancy and terrorism.

Elections and future prosperity

Bangladesh has come a long way since 1991, and the time has come for all of us to ask how to achieve the three Ds, which would bring prosperity to our people, stability in our politics, and security in our lives.

The incumbent has been quite successful in these aspects, particularly with regard to its zero tolerance stance on terrorism and related violence.

At this moment, the AL-led alliance looks likely to win another term. However, they know well that there is no room for complacency in the election game.

The AL should put more effort on positive campaigning, by focusing on its achievements in the areas of development, democracy, and decentralisation over the last two terms.

Those are the keys to a prosperous and thriving Bangladesh, the kind that the Father of the Nation had dreamed of.

Moazzem Hossain is a freelance contributor and lives in Brisbane, Australia.

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