PM’s sweeping generalisation disappointing, dangerous
CASTIGATION of anyone critical of the Awami League-led government’s undemocratic actions and attitudes, and anti-people policies and performances seems to have always been a favourite pastime for the prime minister. Of late, those advocating a non-party government to preside over the upcoming general elections, which runs counter to the incumbents’ apparent plan to be in control of the state machinery during the polls, seem to have been added to the prime minister’s punching bag, so to speak, and she has been quite caustic when characterising these people. According to a report published in New Age on Thursday, the prime minister said people ‘who have failed to form political parties, have never won elections and do not have the courage to seek vote’ were clamouring for ‘this type of government to get some benefits.’ While a few of those who are in favour of an election-time non-party government may fit her description, most don’t; they simply do not believe that the incumbents can, or are willing to, ensure a level playing field if elections were to be held under their stewardship.
Suffice to say, they do so fully aware that, in a democratic dispensation, an unelected government, regardless of how temporary its tenure may be, is an anathema, which is exactly why many of them expressed their reservation when the AL-led opposition had waged a vigorous and violent, and eventually successful, movement for incorporation of the caretaker government provision in the constitution. Then, too, the AL leadership, including the current prime minister, was no less scathing in its smear campaign against these people, who have generally been acclaimed and respected for their unflinching commitment to the democratic political process and, most importantly, consistently clamoured for restoration of the political process during the two years of the military-backed interim government when many political leaders, including some belonging to the Awami League, appeared eager to join in its machination, ‘to get some benefits’.
In fact, the democratic political process and, for that matter, the national political culture could have been further enriched had the prevailing situation been conducive for some of these people, if willing, to ‘seek votes’, and allowed them to ‘win elections’. Regrettably, however, over the years, the mainstream political parties have vitiated the political atmosphere so much and raised the electoral stake so high—in terms of money and muscle—these conscious and conscientious people stand little or no chance. Hence, the prime minister’s attempt at portraying these people with the broad stroke of a brush, so to speak, amounts to a mockery of the truth and, most importantly, an affront to their moral and ethical fortitude.
Unfortunately, such sweeping and derogatory remarks against the well-meaning section of society seem to have become the norm insofar as the ruling political elite are concerned, especially the incumbents, who have appeared increasingly intolerant of divergent and dissenting views throughout their tenure. The ruling quarters do not seem to realise that these people protest against any deviation from democratic principles because they deem it as their moral responsibility, not because they want to ‘get some benefits’, and that such no-holds-barred onslaught on the ever-shrinking space for dissent is ultimately detrimental to the political process. If they continue with their attempts at silencing these voices of collective conscience, the political process risks being engulfed by autocratic darkness.
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