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03rd-Sep-2014

Once the most popular party now hiding behind an unelected government

By MAINUL HOSEIN

What should be a matter of grave concern as well as shame is that the people who freed Bangladesh from the clutches of Pakistani autocracy have been denied their right to vote for choosing their government. The people's voting right for their government is a sovereign right in a free country. The Constitution has laid down the right to "elected" government by the people as a fundamental principle of state policy.  
The Awami League government must not see itself in the shoes of Pakistan day's autocracy and call themselves freedom fighters. It does not make sense on the part of Awami League to throw boastfully a challenge to BNP and others claiming that they have no people's support to organise a mass movement, when the government itself lacks electoral legitimacy. Besides, government must be answerable to the people for denying them voting right under the pretext of a voterless election. By harassing or punishing BNP with police cases, or otherwise will not make the government what is not. It will remain an unelected government not supported by the people.
The upper most question is why Pakistan days like mass movement will be called for in Bangladesh to fight for the people's voting right to have an elected government.  It is not democracy to have a government unelected by the people. In Pakistan days, our people had to go through a war for not allowing their elected representative to form the government.  
Why Awami League government should not be able to accept that in the face of all predictions against Awami League's victory in the 5th January election, it refused to face a free and fair election. Instead of the people rejecting the government, the people got rejected by the government.
Organizationally both BNP and Awami League are weak as a political force because none feels the necessity of becoming politically strong relying on popular support and trust. None of the parties needed leadership ability to prove by governing well.  None of the parties accepts the need of democratic change in party leadership.  The change of government was like auto-promotion between the two leaders of the major parties after each every five years.
The consequence is neither Awami League nor BNP is organized as a people's party keen to see democracy works. Permanent leadership meant power struggle between two vested groups. One group is headed by Sheikh Hasina and the other by Begum Khaleda Zia. Both in turn gave the country corrupt and failed government for the benefit of their followers. The party politics was dominated by unscrupulous businessmen. Non-politicians claimed the privileges of politics. Both worked together in weakening democratic institutions and showed scant regard to the democratic Constitution. None believes in the importance of independent judiciary.
It is sad to see once the most popular party now hiding behind an unelected government.
It is the members of the intelligentsia who are talking of a democratic change. But the people have seen too much corruption, too many abuses of power and suffered too much insecurity to be hopeful about either of the two parties.  Politics of these two parties is nothing but acrimonious power struggle and street fightings.
It is true that the people's most urgent wish is to live in peace and safety. That must not be taken to mean that the people are in favour of the same failed governments and failed leadership.
It is true that in spite of the miserable state of affairs, there is no popular agitation for the reason of the people's anxiousness to live in peace and order. There is a general consensus among the opinion builders that what is seen is lull before the storm.
The present unelected government could have taken advantage of the state of mind of the people if they could stop the plunderers and fight crime. But the overall situation has worsened. The international community is expressing humanistic concern for murder and forced disappearance taking place in large numbers. There is more corruption and more abuse of power. The economic hardship that the people are going through is a matter of no less a grave concern.
All in all, the people are angry and more eager for an escape from the oppressiveness of politics. On the other hand, the government is found incapable of change to deliver good governance. It is planning more concentration of power and giving the looks of a one party police state.  Towards that end fresh steps are being pursued for gagging the press and making the judiciary subservient. Instead of coming closer to the people, the government is moving away farther and farther from the people.
So it is clear that the government is more eager to follow the advice of those who initiated BAKSAL one party autocracy where election had no importance, no free press was tolerated and the government could punish the judges of the Supreme Court.
We would like to hope and believe that the government will immediately disassociate with the corrupt ones and face the safer course of election. The people want peace but they are also angry and discontent. It will be easy for others to ignite violence which does not need popularity.
A government claims to be elected, but not elected will remain under constant fear of losing power. It will see conspiracy everywhere, without knowing that autocracy brings its own downfall.
Those who think that the government is popular, then they should encourage the government to seek election.