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"AL leaders think that India has no option but to support the AL..."

By Editorial Desk
10th-Sep-2018       
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An article by Pinak Ranjan Chakravarty, a distinguished fellow at the Delhi-based Observer Research Foundation, appeared in an international periodical centering around the current situation in Bangladesh's political scenario. The article states that some factors, like the removal of a caretaker government, had a negative impact on the political landscape as most people thought the intention was malafide.

The article further states that internal domestic issues have been dealt with haphazardly by the current government -- including the quota reform movement and the students agitation for traffic reforms. Further flashpoints include the authoritarian way the country is being governed, the high levels of corruption and inefficiency present in the administration, and the sustained harassment of political opponents which gives off the image that the current administration is subverting political norms.

The article mentions a few positive sides like the fact that the government's action against militant religious extremists and terrorists has been effective. The economy has also done very well under the stewardship of the Hasina government, though rampant corruption and crony capitalism have marred the economic landscape.

Further allegations in the article include the packing of every national institution with sympathisers and the removal of anyone in the administration who defies the wishes of the administration.

The article states that AL leaders think that India has no option but to support the AL and will not complain about harassment and discrimination against the Hindu minority.

We have to admit that the former High Commissioner of India has analysed the political crisis facing the country more objectively than many others in India. It is also a hope sign that some others in India have recently been expressing anxiety about the evolving crisis in politics of Bangladesh.

We may not agree with him in all aspects but we have to appreciate that at this crucial time when that nation is totally unsure about the election to be fair, Mr Pinak's article contains valuable suggestions for the government of India not to be blind to the realities in Bangladesh.  Mr Pinak was frank and bravely honest when he said about the bad faith over the election time caretaker government: The AL's move to expunge the caretaker government provision, has been seen as designed to give it control over the election process and, therefore, malafide in intent. Ironically, it was the AL which had agitated in the 1990s for a caretaker government for conducting elections and this provision was incorporated in the constitution by the BNP government.

Our friendship with and dependence on India should be welcome as long as it is not seen to be against the interest of the people of Bangladesh. No nation with any sense of dignity and freedom can feel comfortable with the reality that their government thinks it can derive it's authority, in the words Mr Pinak, from India as "India's shadow".

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina herself stated back in 2017 that the BNP government came to power in 2001 with the help of Indian intelligence services as she refused to sell gas to India.

For the good of respectable relationship between the two countries India cannot feel happy with the image that it interfere with the internal affairs to the extent that the government of Bangladesh do not have to worry about the public opinion for remaining in power.

Discussing the issue of corruption, cronyism and repression of the opposition the former Indian High Commissioner in Bangladesh has again so right said; These issues and the India factor will dominate the electoral campaign. The sustained harassment of political opponents has only added to the growing sullenness among sections of the people and a pervasive feeling that the ruling AL government has assiduously subverted democratic norms and institutions. There is growing consensus that if elections are free and fair, the AL will be reduced to an embarrassing minority in the next parliament. Many critics believe that the Hasina government will 'manage' the election.

We humbly suggest that we have seen very painfully the results of arrogance of blind politics in power. We are deeply concerned about the way the government is using police power and the language of dire consequences against the opposition in the confidence that election rigging arrangement is foolproof. Newspaper reports are there to confirm that hundreds of innocent people are bring arrested with baseless police cases to create panic before the election.

The government most unconstitutionally amended the Constitution to make parliamentary election in an unparliamentary way without dissolving the parliament. AL government's preparation for the election can be compared with the declaration of war against the voters. Awami League is going to hold election remaining in power not to give up power.

There is hope if Mr Pinak is right about his assessment; There is, however, a growing feeling in policy circles in India that Hasina's authoritarian impulses and taking India's support for granted would not be in India's interest.

The people of Bangladesh is facing a dangerous crisis of an impending civil war. Our appeal to friends abroad is to help us have a free election allowing the people to choose their own government. Violent confrontation between the government and the people is not election.

We feel sorry that Prime Minister Hasina is surrounded by some Pakistan time bureaucrats to make her follow development politics of Ayub Khan and not our people's democratic politics. She needs to be rescued.

There is no other way for peace in Bangladesh but to arrange free election through politics of compromise.



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