With polls ahead political tension is building up
Although 2017 has not experienced any major political clash tension and concern are brewing up that the country is heading towards a violent confrontation this year.
Parliamentary democracy in the country and the governance might sink in the mire of innumerable ills as 2018 is the election year.
The public perception is that a wide array of confrontation, political rivalry between two major political parties might tremendously weaken the formal accountability mechanisms putting the country in deep crisis.
In addition to the traditional intra-party conflicts, say a number of political analysts, a new kind of Islamic radicals may raise their ugly heads with violent acts creating unrest in the country by pursuing their own agenda.
Confrontation between the country's arch rivals Awami League and BNP may deepen mostly centering the upcoming election issue, dialogue, election-time government, role of the Election Commission (EC) during election, trial of BNP Chief Khaleda Zia's corruption charges and appointment of the Chief Justice.
Along with those disagreements, the two major political parties also may face off on the street on different unsettled issues.
Five city corporation elections will be the litmus test for Awami League and BNP before the national election.
Zia family's investment in 12 countries will come to the fore as BNP's warning of 30 days, after they sent a legal notice to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina alleging that the premier brought false allegation against Khaleda Zia and defamed her, will end on January 19.
BNP demanded unconditional apology for the "baseless and motivated" statements against Khaleda Zia within 30 days, or otherwise warned of filing a defamation suit.
In this regard Awami League said it would give a befitting reply to the BNP if it continued with the legal proceedings.
Though the last year did not see any violent clash it experienced some heated arguments over Rohingya issue, ambiguity over removal of Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha and verdict on 16th amendment and EC's talks with political parties.
The country also experienced violence in local body elections.
Ahead of the national election, Awami League hinted that it would handle its arch rival with iron hand. It will not allow any violence and arson attacks in the country in the name of movement and agitation.
Party insiders said AL would start showing off its strength from January 5, the day when AL secured second consecutive win in the 10th national election which BNP boycotted.
AL will stage a showdown on this day through organizing a huge public gathering. Similar gathering will also be organized in the capital on January 12 on its four-year celebration of the government tenure.
After that, the party will start election campaign across the country from this month by revamping grassroots.
"BNP must come to the next election for its own survival and that is why there is no possibility of dialogue. The government will take stern action if it wants to unleash any violence in the country, said a Joint General Secretary of Awami League.
Awami League Presidium Member Abdur Razzak told the Daily Observer: "Though it is a year of national election I hope there will be no confrontation in the country."
Razzak said: "BNP should participate in the upcoming election. Violence like 2013, 2014 and 2015 will not recur in the country; law enforcers will contain violence if it tries to create any instability."
Several senior BNP leaders said they think the party will have to face bigger difficulties if it boycotts the next general election no matter in whatever situation the poll is held.
So, the party is taking preparation to take part in the election along with its street agitation demanding a neutral election-time government to ensure that the polls are free, fair and credible, they added.
They said the party would take to the streets throughout the year on various issues like demanding fair polls, the 5th-January controversial elections, verdict on cases against its Chairperson Khaleda Zia and the five city corporation elections.
BNP is likely to take to vigorous agitation programmes before the national poll, if the government does not take any measures to reach a political consensus on the national election.
Khaleda Zia is now putting stress on three important tasks: strengthening the organizational base in field level, effective movement to force the government to hold a fair national election and gaining international support in favour of its demands.
BNP Standing Committee Member Amir Khasru Mahmud Chowdhury said: "Our stance is clear, we don't want conflict. We want elections and it must be held in a peaceful manner. This is why a neutral government is needed for a credible election. We want political dialogue to reach a consensus."
But if the government does not take any initiatives in this regard there will have no alternative but to go for a vigorous movement, he warned.