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Bangladesh needs a new popular party for political balance

Published : Sunday, 26 May, 2024 at 12:00 AM  Count : 360

Bangladesh needs a new popular party for political balance

Bangladesh needs a new popular party for political balance

It is high time for the emergence of a progressive political party in Bangladesh to balance the socio political supremacy of Awami League government which has been in power for the unprecedented fourth consecutive and the fifth term.

Birth of a new strong democratic political party is also essential to stop Awami League from transforming itself into an autocratic government and protect the politics of the country to fall under a one-party system.

The necessity for a new political party has been widely felt as the old traditional political parties of the country have miserably failed to carry on their responsibilities in the face of political onslaught of the mighty Awami League, which once reduced almost to rubble, after the assassination of its stalwart, the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, on August 15, 1975.

However, over the years especially after the formation of an army-backed interim government in January 2007, there have been some attempts of raising a couple of new political parties splitting the then dominant parties like Awami League and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). As the interim government fizzled out and was compelled to hold a national election in December 2008, the attempts ended in vain.

Some recent attempts to form new political parties with new young leaders have also been failed as the leaders themselves failed to accommodate each other in their respective party platforms. Moreover some of them have also been accused of corruption and attempts of anti-state activities at home and abroad.

As a result Awami League as of now still finds no effective opposition and eyes to prolong its political sway for upcoming years. However, the party is shaky a bit in this context as its chief Sheikh Hasina though is in sound health apparently now, she is around 77. In her absence the party is likely to be in deep internal conflict for grabbing leadership, if her son Sajib Wazed Joy, sister Sheikh Rehana and daughter Saima Wazed Putul decline to assume the political risks.

Besides these three there are a host of close relatives of Sheikh Hasina who may also spire to take up the post to be vacated by her, but the leaders, activists and supporters may not accept anyone to replace Sheikh Hasina except the aforesaid three.

Sajib Wazed Joy is a member of the Bangladesh Awami League and serves as the advisor to his mother Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on information and communication technology affairs.

President of the US-based firm Wazed Consulting Inc. Wazed is regarded as the mastermind of the Digital Bangladesh initiative and promoting the Vision 2021 manifesto of the Awami League. Wazed was listed by the World Economic Forum as one of its Young Global Leaders. Wazed is also a lobbyist and columnist on behalf of the Bangladeshi government.

Sheikh Hasinas younger sister Sheikh Rehana is the mother of Tulip Siddiq, a British Labour Party politician and elected Member of Parliament  for the Hampstead and Kilburn constituency. She is also the mother of Radwan Mujib Siddiq, a trustee of the Awami Leagues Centre for Research and Information.

Sheikh Hasinas daughter Saima Wazed Putul is now serving as the South East Asian Regional Director for the World Health Organization since November 1, 2023. Earlier in November, 2016 she was elected as chairperson of International Jury Board meeting of UNESCO for Digital Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities.

She was also among the 25-member Expert Advisory Panel of World Health Organization as a global autism advocate on mental health created for 4 years in 2014.

As the BNP and its allies including Jamaat-e-Islami stayed out of the national elections in 2014 and 2024, with meager participation in 1018, the parties have lost their command over the general leaders and activists. Moreover thousands of active leaders and workers of the parties have been framed in cases and sent to jails for alleged involvements in the deadly arson attacks in 2013, 2015, and also in late 2023.

The unprecedented long spells in power, has helped the ruling party to strengthen its grip on most of national sectors and avenues brewing an autocratic tendency in its leadership.

The autocratic tendency has been growing automatically in absence of a formal opposition in the parliament and in the street, as major and powerful opposition parties have been allowing Awami League and its chief Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to rule the country in her own style, which so far has been positive and the development oriented.

Meanwhile a negative propaganda against her party and government at home and abroad has failed to block her regular appearances in the global events and scenarios. Her performances have been taking her image to further heights, legitimizing her governance in the country.

The autocratic tendency of her government lies in the indifferences of her administrative colleagues and party leaders, in solving the problems faced by the government and the country time to time.

As a result, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has to give almost all the decisions herself when the other party leaders or the bureaucrats fail to give any prompt decision whenever such problems arise.

In most of the cases the senior bureaucrats and the party leaders openly seeks her intervention to solve some pertinent national problems. Accordingly the Prime Minister has become the lone panacea for national problems, with an image of an omnipotent autocratic leader.

Practically she is a very strong leader to rule a highly politically diversified country with very kind attitude for the helpless people of the country, most of whom so far have achieved her generosity of free land home under Ashrayon (housing) projects.

However, her authority and also popularity among the general people had gradually increased since 2009 when she returned to power for her second term, routing her rival opposition BNP and its major ally Jamaat-e-Islami, accused of war crimes in 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War, in the 9th parliamentary election held on December 29, 2008, under an army backed interim government.

The two rival parties of Awami League along with their allies and their offshoots continued to boycott subsequent elections leaving the political field to Awami League, often launching brief but deadly political campaigns.

Amid the boycott by big political parties of yesterdays like BNP and Jamaat, the ruling party has changed its electoral strategy and held elections in January this year with the participation of some more than 40 per cent of voters, as claimed by the Election Commission.

After the Election Commission declared Awami League as the winners, the party quickly formed the government and managed to garner international recognition from different powerful countries of the world. The United States and the European stalwarts despite critical of Bangladeshs latest national election expressed willingness to work with the government of Sheikh Hasina.

The incumbent government by dint of its positive performance with socio-economic and infra-structural development, seems to still enjoy public confidence, amid its failure to rein in rising inflation and financial corruptions in banking and financial sectors.

Despite, criticism and opposition at home by its rival political parties and some western governments including the United States abroad, the Awami League government managed to return to power thru the national parliamentary election in January this year. Because the so called rival parties of the ruling Awami League with poor or remote leadership failed to mobilize the teeming millions to come out on the streets to compel the government to meet their demands or force the administration to stop the election or hold the polls according to the dictation of the rival parties.

The writer is Business Editor, The Daily Observer







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