PM blurs the line between ideal and reality
THE prime minister’s latest rejection of the opposition demand for a negotiated settlement over the composition for an election-time caretaker government on Sunday, and her insistence that the ‘elections will be held as per our constitution’, is indeed rooted in constitutionality and democratic principles. Ideally, in a democratic dispensation, the constitution is the supreme law of the land and an unelected government, even for a brief period of time, is an anathema. Ideally, in a democratic dispensation, the political incumbents remain at the helms of the state as the election commission conducts the general elections, graciously accept the results and peacefully transfer power to the victors. Ideally, in a democratic dispensation, the political incumbents do not try to interfere with the electoral process and thus influence its outcome. Regrettably, however, in Bangladesh, an aspiring democracy, the reality on the ground remains far adrift from democratic ideals. Here, the ruling political elite, including the incumbent Awami League-led government and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party-led opposition, seem to have an ambivalent relationship with the constitution, ‘the solemn expression of the will of the people’, and democracy, the system of governance ‘of the people, by the people and for the people’. They seem to cherish both the constitution and democracy, when in opposition, but generally confine these to the realm of partisan rhetoric, when in power. As such, when they talk repeatedly of constitutionalism and democracy, when in power, and that too about an election-time government, people generally get suspicious and apprehensive in equal measures. They can hardly be faulted for nurturing such suspicion and apprehension, given the unfailing and unmistakable unconstitutional and undemocratic behaviour of the successive governments since independence.
Hence, the prime minister’s self-professed commitment to constitutionalism and democratic ideals, as expressed in the news conference at her Ganabhaban residence on Saturday, is unlikely to have any takers beyond her party loyalists, beneficiaries and sympathisers, who, based on the results of the previous general elections, do not even constitute half of the electorate. Simply put, her words may be grounded in democratic ideals but seem to lack both social and political legitimacy, the former because of the lingering mistrust of the people with the ruling elite and the latter because the ongoing impasse is the creation of the AL-government itself through a unilateral revocation of the caretaker government provision, which had been forced into the corporation by a vigorous and violent AL-led political agitation in the mid-1990s. The prime minister must have been mindful that, when her party was agitating for the incorporation of the caretaker government provision, the then prime minister and currently the leader of the opposition initially rejected the demands citing constitutionality and democratic ideals, and that there is hardly any reason for people at large not to see the ironic turn of events. Thus, hers can be said to have been a deliberate attempt at ignoring the reality on the ground.
Be that as it may, in view of her assertion that she ‘will not budge an inch from the constitution’ and the opposition’s plan for tougher movement, political uncertainty appears to be the only certainty, which could only do injustice to the political process and, needless to add, the people. Hence, it is imperative that both sides of the political divide should shelve their ‘not budge an inch’ attitude and cede ground so that there can be a peaceful resolution of the ongoing political impasse — the sooner, the better.
comments powered by Disqus
AT LAST, the finance minister admitted that the state-owned... Full story
AMERICAN power is diminishing, as it has been in fact since its peak in 1945, but it’s still incomparable. And it’s dangerous. Obama’s remarkable global terror campaign and the limited, pathetic reaction to it in the West is one shocking example. And it is a campaign... Full story