BNP Standing Committee member Moudud Ahmed Saturday said the party did not trust the ruling Awami League and would therefore not participate in elections under this government.
In reply to Moudud’s comment, senior Awami League leader Tofail Ahmed said Awami League also did not trust the BNP expressed his belief that a fair and credible election was possible under the present government.
He claimed that unlawful influencing of the elections was not possible.
The two leaders were among the four panellists at BBC Bangladesh Songlap (dialogue) held in a city auditorium on Saturday. The two other participants were SHUJAN Secretary Badiul Alam Majumdar and Brac University teacher Prof Firdous Azim. They took questions from the audience.
Badiul Alam said the present political crisis could lead to conflicts. He described the political culture of the country as one in which “one is looting while in power and endures torture while in opposition.”
He observed that crisis the would not be resolved until this culture was stopped.
In reply, Tofail said the way Badiul Alam was criticising politicians was unacceptable. “He [Badiul] always criticises politicians.”
Tofail said politicians played an important role in every achievement of the country. He went on to claim that organisations criticising the government were serving their own agendas: “No inquiry is made on corruption of social organisations. So they do not have to be accountable.”
In reply, the SHUJAN secretary said he did not criticise politicians in general, but those who “commit corruption in the name of politics.” He also said the government could investigate the social organisations and “can take action if anything irregular is found.”
The politicians must be accountable to the people, he said.
In response to a question from the audience whether the Election Commission (EC) was working neutrally, Badiul Alam said it seemed the EC had some loyalty towards the government. “There is question about neutrality of the EC.”
He voiced the view that the commission was not as prepared as it should have been to hold a fair and credible election. “Fair and credible election is not possible under this government,” said the secretary of SHUJAN, a platform working to ensure good governance.
Brac University's Prof Firdous Azim agreed that, to some extent, the EC was biased in favour of the government.
Moudud said the fact that the EC had tried to break BNP into two groups was enough to prove that it was not working neutrally.
Tofail argued that the result of the five city corporation elections was proof of the EC’s neutrally. He said the trend of manipulating elections by muscle-power had ended.
On the government’s move to sue Dr Muhammad Yunus, Badiul Alam said: “It seems that the government has a vendetta towards Yunus.”
Firdous said the government should not have made the move: “Considering the fact that Grameen Bank is working for women empowerment and poverty eradication, the move against Yunus is not acceptable.”
Moudud said the steps against Dr Yunus reflected a narrow mentality.
Tofail said: “According to constitution, every citizen is equal and when there is a question of irregularities, anyone can be inquired.”