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Both the judgement and constitutional change have made free election impossible

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By MAINUL HOSEIN
15th-Mar-2017       
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The general election is to take place in December 2018, but the election fever has gripped the nation. The government is both browbeating the main opposition of the consequences if like in the last time they boycott the election and alluring them to join the election.

The main opposition BNP sees no hope for the election to be free. Despite being hopeless of the situation it cannot allow the government to go unchallenged.

The government seems ready to make some concessions to attract BNP to the election. Whatever that be, no concession from the government can be enough. The government has changed the Constitution not for the opposition to defeat the government.The idea of holding a parliamentary election without first dissolving the Parliament and declaring the seats of the Parliament vacant, means not only helping to rig the election against the people but also to rig the democratic system  itself.

Under every parliamentary system worth knowing the Parliament is dissolved for election to commence. It is the strangest of strange to say that after dissolution of the elected Parliament there remains an elected government.

But in our country, the Constitution was changed to hold parliamentary election under the sitting government and without declaring the seats of the Parliament vacant.

The situation became too complicated when our Supreme Court dictated by a majority of one that the National Election must be held under the elected government without citing any instance from anywhere. One of their Lordships held that election process is political and the judiciary should have left the matter for the Parliament to decide. I also subscribe to this view.

All our eminent lawyers advised the court for retaining the non-party caretaker government during election time. All-party Parliamentary Committee unitedly recommended for continuing the caretaker system.

But the Supreme Court took a political decision despite overwhelming advice to the contrary. This decision must be overturned by the Supreme Court to make parliamentary democracy work.  

An unelected ad hoc government is asked to run the day to day affairs during the election time under every major parliamentary system. The outgoing Prime Minister is accepted to head the ad hoc government.

That was the practice under our parliamentary system also. But Awami League changed the Constitution unilaterally to hold election under Sheikh Hasina's government without even dissolving the Parliament.

The Election Commission as an independent body is a sitting duck before the government which will be the effective Election Commission to announce the election results. Short of popular uprising the government has a fool-proof arrangement against losing the election. The government should know, that we know. To some, politics is a game of not giving up power.

Recalling how the idea of caretaker government had come and gone in our country it is necessary to make clear that the need of an unelected ad hoc government for free and fair election was recognised by our political leaders. Now the system is, there will be elections but not facing the people. The people will not be free to express their opinion through the ballots. 

Ideally the undemocratic election and undemocratic leadership both have to be ended for a fresh beginning of democracy under the new democratic leadership. Everybody should see how the country is flooded with corruption, crime and lies.

The Election Commission needs help to be effective. Forget all the pep talks, unless the sitting government is neutralised the Election Commission will be merely a rubber stamp. 

The election should be a free option for the people to choose the future government and not to open the way for street movements against the government.

One thing is sure, unless the government so wants no free election is possible.

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