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Awami League and the upcoming parliamentary election

Published : Wednesday, 27 June, 2018 at 12:00 AM  Count : 444

Nizam Ahmed

Nizam Ahmed

The leadership in the ruling Awami League (AL) is naturally worried as the next parliamentary elections are approaching fast and if everything goes normal the polls are expected to be held in December or early January next.
Despite a firm conviction of winning the next parliamentary election riding on the ongoing development activities with some mega projects and achievements in socio-economic, information technology and scientific sectors, the ruling party often expresses nervousness in its deeds and gestures.

There are ample reasons of nervousness among the leadership of the ruling party as some of the policies of the government have apparent protection for some of its unscrupulous leaders who in the name of boosting the economy robbed banks, laundered billions and billions of taka over the last nine years.

The government and the Finance Ministry miserably failed to retrieve some over Tk 80,000 crores of bad loans including classified and non performing loans. It also failed to bring relevant bank bosses who helped laundered the money, to book. The situation became so acute that both the treasury and the opposition members lambasted the Finance Ministry in the parliament.

Some of the treasury bench members thought that the criticism of the relevant Minister and the Ministry in the parliament would appease the general public reducing their wrath on the government. But in fact the criticism largely went against the government and the people have begun to think that those who were involved in bank loot and money laundering had some sort of state immunity.

The majority of the people, who toil hard to support their life, have been shocked seeing this state-sponsored plundering of the country's wealth. They wonder why the government does not bring the plunderers to justice. They want to know why the government does not take action against those plunderers, most of whom are deeply related with the ruling party.

Moreover, despite the directives of the party chief not to shelter anyone from rival parties, the ruling party has absorbed a lot of corrupt people who had been involved with the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and Jamaat-e-Islami before 2009. Infiltrating into AL, they have created various rival groups within the party resulting in internecine deadly clashes and division within the party and its front organisations including the students wing, Chhatra League and youth chapter, Juba League. As a result AL faced some debacle in some recent local polls across the country.

A group of intruders have also been involved in different crimes including robbery, killing and rape tarnishing the image of the ruling party and the government. However, the people who endorse that the AL government over the last nine years has given the country a lot of development, which are far bigger than the development achieved earlier in the previous 38 years since the liberation of the country.

The people also think had the banks been not looted and the cash not laundered, the country would have seen more development and economic achievements. As the government has embarked on a new challenge of removing the menace of drug from the country, people with the whole hearted support to the drive against drug, also want to see that drug lords, some of whom are allegedly linked with the ruling party, are also brought under the dragnet. Meanwhile rights groups have demanded a cease on extrajudicial killing of the drug peddlers, as more than 150 such criminal have been killed in purported gunfight with law enforcers over the last one and a half month.

The worries of the AL and the incumbent government were exposed when Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said the grassroots leaders and activists of her party would be held responsible in case the party loses in the next parliamentary election. The Prime Minister addressing the 69th founding anniversary of AL in Dhaka on June 23 said: "It won't be acceptable if people don't cast votes for Boat (AL election symbol) after such massive development works."

However, Sheikh Hasina, also the chief of AL, said there is no reason that people would not vote her party to power in the upcoming election.
 "If that happens, you the leaders and activists of the grassroots level will be held responsible. If our candidates do not get votes, it will mean that you have failed to reach out to the mass people, serve them, convince them, inform them about the tremendous developments that have taken place during the government," she said.

Political analysts believe that in these days of information and communication technology, there is no reason that people do not see development, which have entered in most places including rural areas in form of concrete roads, bridges, internets, mobile telephony, mobile financial services etc. But, they say people see corruption, lawlessness and immoral activities of leaders and activists more than the infrastructure development done by the government to serve the people and the boost the economy.

AL believes that this time its arch rival BNP will contest even if its Chairperson Began Khaleda Zia fails to get bail in a graft case in which she was sentenced to a five-year term in February last.

However, BNP leaders have been reiterating that it would not participate in any election without the release of Khaleda Zia and also under the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.  BNP has been demanding the next parliamentary election to be held under a poll-time government headed a person accepted by most political parties.

However, AL rejected the demand and said the poll-time government would be headed by Sheikh Hasina and manned by the parties who have representation in the outgoing 10th parliament. The BNP-led 20-party alliance has no representation in the parliament as it boycotted the parliamentary election held on January 5, 2014.

The next six months are very crucial for the government, which has to do something convincing for the people, by showing that the law is equal for all including those who are linked with the ruling party. Otherwise the worries might turn into realities, to drive the country backward again.

In a parliamentary democracy only a single competent and popular political figure like Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is not sufficient for a party to overcome election hurdles. Only a strong team work can make a party to win. But if the team consists of even a least number of corrupt or inefficient leaders, the party has every possibility to fail to get the mandate of the general people.

The author is Business Editor,
The Daily Observer

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