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Govt needs to accommodate opposition̢۪s aspirations

REGARDLESS of what the so-called ‘all-party’ government of prime minister Sheikh Hasina would want to have the people believe, the ongoing blockade by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party-led opposition alliance seems to have virtually brought road, rail and river communication to a grinding halt, aided largely by widespread violence and vandalism. While bomb and arson attacks on road transport continues with increasing ferocity and frequency, resulting in debilitating injury and death of mostly ordinary people, train services have gone through serious disruptions because of damages done to rail tracks. According to a report published in New Age on Monday, at least 250 people were injured as an inter-city train on the Dhaka-Chittagong route derailed Sunday night after fishplates had been removed from the tracks. Meanwhile, academic as well as administrative activities in educational institutions, both public and private, remain suspended while trade and commerce has come to a virtual stop. Overall, the ongoing stalemate in national politics seems to have induced a general stasis in national life — from governance to the economy to what have you.
As much as the ruling camp wants to heap the blame for the widespread death and destruction on the opposition alliance (it has repeatedly done so over the past few days, with the prime minister spearheading the vitriolic campaign), the fact remains that it is primarily responsible for virtually forcing the opposition into putting up a violent resistance against the governing coalition’s autocratic behaviour towards the latter. It is for quite some time now that the government has not allowed the opposition parties to function normally, with many of their leaders arrested and offices shut down. Moreover, it looks increasingly obvious that the exceedingly unpopular ruling coalition is out to retain power by way of holding the next general elections, designed to be held under its direct control, with the opposition out of the polls.
Simply put, the ruling coalition seems to have well and truly pushed the opposition against the wall, leaving the latter with no option but to fight back. Such retaliation, as has been evidenced in the past, runs the risk of degenerating into a widespread orgy of killing and getting killed and it has; after all, the longer it continues, the more it is prone to getting out of control of the saner minds in the opposition camp. As such, when the prime minister accuses the opposition leader of perpetrating ‘genocide’, she needs to realise that her government is equally, if not more responsible, for the bloodletting that has been going on for a while now. In other words, the ruling coalition has blood in its hand, too.
The ruling coalition also needs to realise that it obviously has very little control over what has been happening across the country; its overt and sustained use of law enforcement agencies as repressive tools in tandem with ruling party musclemen seem to have aggravated the situation even more. Yet, the ruling camp continues to create an impression, if not illusion, of control, by keeping the rail service open and having some transport owners loyal to it run buses on city routes, suffice to add, on a very limited scale. By doing so, it is essentially pushing common people further into harm’s way.
Ultimately, the only way out of the mess that the ruling camp in particular has dragged the country and its people into is accommodation of the opposition demand for a general election without partisan control, for which, again, the government needs to take the initiative, both political and constitutional, without any prejudice or precondition.

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Govt needs to accommodate opposition̢۪s aspirations

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A bus set ablaze at Dhanmondi in Dhaka on Sunday, the second day of the 72-hour countrywide opposition blockade. — New Age photo
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