Logo
06th-Jan-2015

We can't all be helpless in this ominous situation

By MAINUL HOSEIN

If police were free then it would have been possible to say that not to allow BNP to hold the public meeting on 5th January was a police consideration and not a case of political abuse of police power.
There were massive police mobilization and swift arrests of BNP leaders and workers. The worst still was placing the BNP leader Begum Khaleda Zia under police confinement making the government look weak and out of support of the people. Police barricade was not considered enough. The government needed to deploy trucks, loaded with sand/bricks, to stop BNP Chief from coming out for the meeting.
About the menacing plan of the government, the ministers and their men made it clear long before that the BNP leaders and workers would not be allowed to come out on the street. They have made it clear that the government itself is frightened and it has the reckless determination to stick to power at any cost without dialogue and without election.  It has been the pet massage of the government that there will be no dialogue on the question of its facing the people in a free election.
Allowing no free election and no public meetings to others is not democratic politics by any definition. This is an invitation for clashes and confrontations. That is why we have been saying painfully that we have no political leadership to guide the country sensibly and peacefully.
The national issues like democratic legitimacy of the government and the people's democratic rights cannot be isolated from the crisis evolving. People have no reason to feel happy about plundering of public wealth and abuse of power at all levels.
It is a mistake for the government to think that the problem is limited to their power struggle with BNP. BNP's elimination will not make the present government just or more acceptable to the people. The government has to change its thinking if it can. Unfortunately, Awami League has turned itself into a revolutionary party forgetting its glorious democratic legacy.  
Resorting to police power instead of meeting the crisis politically does not only show the government's lack of confidence in itself for public support and its ability to govern politically. It could not even wait to see what happens at the public meeting called by BNP. The government has only proved that it fears the people and public gatherings.
But BNP's fault is that it is not offering a clear democratic politics as an alternative. More of the same politics is not democracy. For people to choose between Awami League and BNP is not so clear cut. Election only democracy of both the parties has now killed democracy.
The men in power claiming to be popular but not ready to face election, no matter how much police power is needed to suppress the opposition, only shows how they deceive themselves and cannot think of a sensible way out.
The lack of popular support is a dangerous weakness for any government that claims election legitimacy but does not have it.
It cannot be true that those who are not part of the power struggle have to remain helpless spectators when the nation faces an ominous future. Violence has spread all over the country and police excesses have made the situation worse and more dangerous.
After forty years of election only democracy as practised by parties it is time for all of us, wherever we are, whether we belong to a political party or not, to believe that building democracy is a national responsibility and not just a party affair.