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PM’s threat to opposition

The prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, addressing her party rally in Suhrawardy Udyan in the capital Dhaka on Friday, has clearly threatened the opposition with ‘stringent action’ if  the latter does not stop to ‘hamper life any more by enforcing general strikes and blockades in the aftermath of the elections.’ It means that the prime minister has vowed to get as tough as she needs to stop the opposition movement against the farcical elections that took place on January 5. In this regard,  one can recall here that the prime minister, while in opposition in 1991–96 and 2001–06 in particular, resorted to violent  movements, first to foil the general elections boycotted by the Awami League, then in opposition, and then to unseat the then government of the BNP. More importantly, what opposition leaders and activists have been doing for some months now to give vent to their discontent and displeasure with policies and actions of the incumbents which may have troubled people at large resulted mostly from the atrocious means the latter adopted to suppress the former’s voice. Reportedly, more than a half of the people now incarcerated in the country are leaders and activists of opposition parties. Besides, even innocuous programmes such as human chains organised by the BNP and its allies in different areas across the country, including the capital, have been foiled by the police and, sometimes, hooligans loyal to the ruling party-affiliated bodies.
The prime minister needs to realise that the government she is going to form today is based on a farcical election which has failed to secure popular legitimacy at home and abroad. The election was not only boycotted by the majority of political parties, including the BNP and its allies, registered with the Election Commission but also marked by a huge number of fake votes  and a very low voter turnout. The less said about the 153 candidates, who are predominantly tied to the ruling party, elected unopposed the better. As legal experts observed, meanwhile, members of the 10th parliament took oath in violation of the constitution even at a time when the 9th parliament continued to exist. Overall, what the prime minister needs to do in the first place is some soul-searching and find out a way for inclusive polls to the next parliament as soon as possible under a non-party administration. In case she opts for autocratic measures, especially to quell the opposition movement, instead, it may lead to a disaster not only for the party in power but for the country as well. No one can deny that continuous repressive actions against opposition may antagonise further not only the latter but also the international community which has been urging the incumbents to engage the opposition in an effective dialogue to hold an inclusive election soon. The government’s refusal to do so might leave an adverse impact not only on the country’s political process but also on the national economy, resulting in both the political and economic disasters for the entire populace.

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