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Not 1996 or 2006, it’s 1970

  • Published at 05:15 pm October 28th, 2013
Not 1996 or 2006, it’s 1970

As the end of October draws closer, political discussions, opinion, advice and analysis are getting interesting. Fortunately, unlike the first half of the year, the political confrontations have been confined to oral contests as opposed to street violence. Yet, the fear is that soon this oral confrontation will turn to street conflicts as the politics pivot.

In order to imagine what may be coming, analysts are considering the pre-election situations of the recent past. This is normal, as to understand the present one needs to study the past. The analysts, in particular, are comparing the present situation, as it stands in late 2013, with the pre-election situations of 1996 and 2006.

While the current deadlock represents similarities with the two past stalemates, in one respect it is entirely distinct from them.

Even though to many it may seem inappropriate there is reasonable logic in stating that the current situation actually has a lot of uncanny similarities with the post general election events of 1970, held in the then East-Pakistan.

But first let’s consider the comparison with 1996 and 2006. It is obvious to those “static” analysts that in both cases the incumbent BNP tried, as much as it could, to influence the outcomes of the impending elections to get re-elected.

As now, in 1996 the (BNP) government used to give the excuse of the constitution – that it did not have the numbers in the parliament to bring about the necessary amendments by it alone – to dismiss demands of the allied opposition parties that the election be held under a caretaker government.

Although the BNP leaders back then used to call on opposition to end boycotting the parliament, they were not clear whether the (BNP) government was accepting the opposition’s demand for the care taker government if they return to the parliament.

Exactly like now different government leaders used to make contradictory statements against one another, due to which the general public was convinced and came to the conclusion that the (BNP) government did not wanted a free and fair election.

On the other hand, in 2006 BNP made the caretaker system and the election commission controversial, again in order to get a favourable election outcome.

Amid fierce opposition from the opposition parties, the Army intervened on 1/11 which majority of the citizen welcomed. These incidents proves the clear similarities with 2013; but then why would we find any similarities with 1970′s stalemate?

There has been a number of opinion polls conducted this year. And they all show huge support for the opposition party.

If it were only one or two surveys, we could have ignore them as anomalies but not a number of them repeatedly showing clear majority for the opposition – indicating strongly, a certain victory for them by a large margin in a free fair election.

The AL government itself has conducted two major surveys through the election commission in June and July, as if to persuade those who are still considers the opinion polls as dubious. As the findings of the opinion polls were truly reflected in the outcomes of the four city corporations elections and Gazipur election.

There is no logical reason to doubt who the public opinion favours at this point of time in 2013. Especially the unexpected result of the Gazipur election made the forthcoming change crystal clear not only to the opposition but to any intelligent citizen.

The clear and strong public opinion makes 2013 different from 1996 and 2006.

In 1996, the government knew that there was a preference for the caretaker arrangement but it did not know and certainly the general public was not aware of the majority’s opinion.

While BNP lost the election its total vote rose by 3% to 34% and it secured 116 seats in the parliament to emerge as the largest opposition in the history. Following the mishaps of 2006, no opinion polls were conducted in two years.

Just as in 2008 there remains no doubts in anyone’s mind what would be the outcome of a fair election, and this is particularly well known to AL.

All their strategies are being devised in light of this information. Some of the ideas floating in mainstream media are – by hook or crook hold the election under the government, keep the opposition from participating, in emergency leave the administration under the President to postpone the election by another year, in a final attempt handover power to the army to postpone the election.

All political observers would agree that the government is determined to stop the public opinion to establish through the election. And this is the sameness with the post election events in East-Pakistan in 1970. In that election with 75% of the votes AL secured 160 seats to claim the power to govern.

But the military government and West-Pakistani politicians hid behind numerous pretexts not to transfer power to AL and eventually the dreadful night of March 25.

A nation’s aspiration to be free, its looming violent freedom fight, it struggles birth of a new independent nation is far too high a dimension to be compared with the situation of 2013. They simply cannot be compared.

But an attempt to hijack people’s clear choice can be compared with the post election shenanigans of 1970.

The government is trying its best to quell people’s wish, just as in 1970. There isn’t a danger of a war of 1971 as a result of this effort, however it is hard to imagine a rosy prospect, if this continues.

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