History will hold Awami League responsible
Bangladesh witnesses the most farcical elections ever held under an elected government today. It is farcical not only because the entire opposition political camps have boycotted the polls in the apprehension of the elections being rigged by the incumbents but also because 153 seats of the 300-member national parliament have already been captured by the candidates of the ruling coalition without a single vote being cast because of a subjugated Election Commission declaring them elected unopposed, depriving 52 per cent of the voters of their right to franchise. The government now goes ahead with the elections to the rest 147 seats, in most of which, again, the opposing candidates belong to the ruling coalition. Which polls, if not these, would be called farcical, managed in the name of democratic elections? But the government of the Awami League went ahead with the political farce despite repeated requests from all social and political quarters — not to mention the sustained opposition demand for free and fair participatory elections under a credible, non-party government capable of creating a level playing field for the contesting political camps. Instead of accommodating the opposition demand, the incumbents have chosen to detain its leader, Khaleda Zia, in her house and have arrested hundreds of her party leaders and activists. In the process, the Awami League has also ignored the entire international community, except India, urging the incumbents to ensure a participatory election. India, which has been hostile to Bangladesh’s national interests in more than one ways, has visibly supported the unilateral polls designed by the AL high command. With the Awami League’s popularity reaching rock bottom, the party can no longer retain power based on people’s mandate to be expressed through a fair election at the moment and without the Awami League in power, India cannot continue to dominate Bangladesh the way it has been doing over the past few years.
The so-called election is, however, being held in the midst of the opposition call for the public to resist the farcical election, suggesting clearly that there can be violent protests against the polls. Given the Awami League’s intolerant attitude towards any opposition, the incumbents are likely to use excessive force against the opposition protests. There is a possibility of loss of more lives in political clashes. After all these, the government is set to get its subservient Election Commission declare the votes valid. Still, the incumbents may not be able to save the situation, for a parliament to be constituted by the people ‘elected’ through such a farcical poll is bound to be considered politically illegitimate. Subsequently, a government to be formed based on the strength of majority seats of such an illegitimate parliament will also be considered equally illegitimate. Understandably, the country would then witness a fresh spate of violent opposition protest for forcing an illegitimate government to step down, and the latter may appear to be more repressive against the protesters to resist a humiliating defeat in the near future. Meanwhile, social and economic stability would be the casualty. History this time would definitely hold the AL high command responsible for social, political and economic instability.
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