BNP must shun politics of boycott or it will head towards an abyss
The 11th JS poll has ended over a month ago. The people of the country has unequivocally re-elected Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina by giving her massive mandate for the next five years. A new cabinet has been formed and it has commenced its operations. And the parliament too started its maiden session last week. International recognition with congratulations to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina from US President Trump, British Premier Theresa May, Russian President Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Saudi King Salman, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other important global leaders continue to pour in.
The stark reality is that, in the face of intermittent criticism voiced by a fraction of the opposition quarters about the outcome of the last general elections -Bangladesh has now a new government with a decisive mandate and it continues to proceed with its regular duties evincing political will to implement its election pledges to build a developed country free from corruption, drugs, terrorism and communalism. The people are now convinced of the achievements and developments of the government under PM Sheikh Hasina but they are confused whether BNP is responding as a responsible and self-confident opposition party to the current political reality of Bangladesh?
BNP and Oikyafront have decided not to allow their eight MPs, elected on December 30 election, to take oath and participate in parliament sessions as opposition members. They also declared to boycott the Dhaka City Mayoral election and local government polls at Upazilla levels. Political analysts, even many inside BNP and Oikyafront, believe that such derisive decision will isolate the Alliance from political activities and it seems the mass based party BNP is decimated by wrong and indecisive leadership. By boycotting the invitation of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's tea party for political leaders at her official residence on Saturday BNP and Oikyafront have once again shown their gross indecency.
Plainly speaking, to many, BNP's response, as of now, has been negative and somewhat ambivalent. It has repeatedly expressed its discontent over its poor performance in the just concluded general elections. It has lodged its complaints with the diplomats in Dhaka, yielding no positive response. It has tried to capitalise on the few irregularities that occurred on Election Day. Most importantly, it has so far evidently failed to organise a single big scale rally or procession, anywhere within the country, excepting issuing barrage of general press statements.
The common people expect BNP to act as an assertive political opponent to the ruling party and government in tune with today's political reality of the country, and not act out of antipathy and resentment. The politics of revulsion in Bangladesh has ended. The people no longer desire to witness violence and vandalism in the name of politics which BNP-Jamaat unleashed during 2013-2015 killing people, torching public vehicles and damaging state properties. More than ever before, it's time BNP should realise how much it has isolated itself as a democratic political entity.
We don't see any valid and viable reason for BNP to boycott the election outcome. On the contrary, we are rather concerned to see BNP frequently losing its political direction leading the party towards the end of an abyss. BNP Chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia is condemned to jail on corruption charge misappropriating fund of orphanage and her son Tarique Zia, acting Chairman of the party, is fugitive in London escaping court sentence against him on corruption and murder cases. The elder leaders of the party can not decide under the ominous shadow of Tarique Zia raising the general perception that BNP is now face leadership crisis and suffering from indecision.
Irrespective of the fewer number of seats the party has won, the opposition's main role is to question the government and hold them accountable to the public. More to it, the opposition represents an alternative government, and is responsible for challenging the policies of the government and producing different policies where appropriate. That's why the opposition party in a parliamentary democracy is considered as the shadow government.
An important reality in today's Bangladesh: state power does not get shifted on a five year basis any longer. The notion of caretaker government has become obsolete and unwarranted. More to it, in democracy politics is not all about assuming absolute political authority; it's about upholding and practicing the teachings of democracy, not for the sake of the party but for the greater interest of the nation.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina officially declared that her government would welcome criticism and she stressed on national unity to take the country on the highway of development. In line with the PM's words, we also believe, in the trend of democracy, criticism is very important since it helps in rectifying mistakes while taking prompt action wherever needed. And if BNP is to refrain from playing its constructive role in the parliament, it will not only deliberately neglect its political obligations but the party's very existence will be at stake.
On the topic of recovery from its lumbering state, a number of its politicians and supporters had elaborated a number of formulas and plans. The truth, however, they merely remain as theories, having none to materialise them. BNP is perhaps realising this painful truth but at the same time the party's top brass is miscalculating the national psyche and demand of the public. From a functional perspective, BNP will have to perform extraordinarily at its grassroots level to widen its political activities and that's noticeably missing. Rather despondently, the party has distanced itself from the people, thus getting distracted and diverted from executing its democratic obligations. Time has come BNP leaders should have soul searching to rectify their past mistakes and misdeed.
It is more than ever before, BNP acknowledges that a political opposition in Bangladesh or in any functional democracy, irrespective of its size and number, is very important for smooth running of democracy. Our constitution has given equal importance to scrutinise some of the potential problems a government can cause and it certainly gives an option to maintain checks-and-balances of a government. And not to forget, the leader of the key opposition party in Parliament has the status equal to a cabinet minister.
BNP must acknowledge this truth, despite its poor performance in the polls it should perform its political commitments made to the people. We expect BNP to reinvent and re-emerge as a responsible political party, and therefore actively participate in constructive criticism of the government.
It must also free itself from its political association with harmful fundamentalists and anti-liberation elements like Jamaat and 1971 war criminals. And for that to happen, it must sever all its ties with anti-liberation forces. If BNP continues to fail in distinguishing this plain truth, it is time for BNP to lose the political ground.