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All eyes now set on dialogues, all roads lead to Ganobhaban

Published : Thursday, 1 November, 2018 at 12:00 AM  Count : 1720
Observer Special

The latter half of October, precisely the last 72 hours witnessed a dramatic change taking place in the country's political state of affairs. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has given the nation a pleasant surprise opening the door for much coveted dialogue before the parliament election likely to be held in December.

The people heaved a sigh of relief, the share market became bullish, the uncertainty over national election is waning, the fear of violence is fading, the business community is feeling relieved following PM's welcome move for political dialogue with leaders, parties and alliances. The diplomats also are hailing the PM's initiative.

The much desired and missed political dialogue between the government and opposition political fractions now is a reality - following today's dialogue between the Prime Minister and the 16- member delegation of Oikyafront led by Dr Kamal Hossain. That's not all - the PM is also scheduled to hold dialogue with Dr. B Chowdhury led Bikalpadhara the very next day on November 2 (tomorrow). Just yesterday Ershad-led Jatiya Party has also written to the PM seeking dialogue. In all, years of ice built on suspicion, vengeance,  discontent and hatred in the country's politics now seems to be melting.

All eyes are now set on the dialogues and all roads now lead to Ganobhaban, the official residence of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

No matter what the outcome of this sequence of political dialogues bring out, at least one fact has become clear -- there will not be a repetition of violence that was unleashed by BNP and Jamaat during 2013-2015.

Not only that the opposition camps have shown keen interest in changing the hopeless hateful political differences , but they collectively seems to be changing the dynamics of leadership of political opposition in Bangladesh. Even last week it seemed dialogue was impossible  but now it appears holding dialogues was not only possible - but it's even possible without Begum Khaleda Zia's leadership.

Understandably, an opposition political leader's personal point-of-view is not always necessarily the collective voice of all opponent forces. And political dialogues do not depend on one leader or one party. At least the outgoing US Ambassador Marcia Bernicat's observation to the media confirms that fact. Quoting her words, "Dialogue is not just even the meeting at the high-level, but how party members relate with each other and work together across the country for the benefit of people." Her statement clearly negates BNP contention that dialogue is not possible without Begum Zia's leadership.

However, the most visible optimistic change in the last 72 hours has been that there is a sigh of relief among the general public. Bitter apprehensions fearing political violence has been largely wiped out. And most hopefully, if all the upcoming dialogues are held in peaceful manner, the people will follow the path towards a fair, credible and an all-inclusive general election.
Also marching the country towards building a healthy political culture can start with the latest series of dialogues beginning from today.

Nevertheless, often it's the exact timing for applying the correct strategy at the correct time for gaining the upper hand against political rivals. One couldn't have become more surprised with the timing for holding the dialogues chosen by the Prime Minister. She has proved her political maturity and her strategy to outsmart and outwit her political rivals. By sending request letter for the dialogue and accepting the PM's invitation to sit in dialogue with her the opposition parties including BNP have finally accepted the reality and reneged on their public stand not to recognise Sheikh Hasina as a legal Prime Minister terming 2014 national election as unacceptable.

With the countdown to the national polls - she has once more proved her political astuteness in terms of selecting the correct timing. Dialogue ahead of national elections is a trend in the country's politics. And the history of political parley suggests earlier dialogues took place when opposition movement reached its peak. Amazingly, this time the dialogue is going to take place without a political movement. But the PM decided to strike while the iron is hot.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is perhaps attempting to remind Vladimir Lenin's famous quote: sometimes - history needs a push.
The country is likely to witness more political twists and turns within the first half of November. We, however, expect the political dialogues will  lead our politicians to the direction of logical and ethical political thinking and practices. The country needs political stability to ensure the present unprecedented and undaunted march towards sustainable development and welfare of the people under Sheikh Hasina's leadership. Alternative to dialogue is to roll back again to violence,  chaos and anarchy. No one wants it and people will surely resist it if any party or evil forces want to repeat the unsavoury violent incidents of the past.

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