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21st-Feb-2014

Fight is to save Bangladesh as moderate Muslim democracy

By MAINUL HOSEIN

How the government snatched victory to continue in power is confirmed, if confirmation was necessary,  by the results  of the first phase of upazila elections. The government's propaganda against Jamaat as a terrorist party did not cut any ice. Jamaat won in 12 upazilas. The BNP did better than the Awami League. But the truth is that the government could not lose  its control in the national election or allow the opposition alliance of BNP to join the national election. Awful violence was inevitable and it happened causing deaths and destructions and untold misery all around.  Democracy is a political system and helping it to survive we needed political leadership that we have failed to build. So the farcical democracy died through a farcical election.What is disturbing is that the way has been paved decisively for one party rule. Much more than that. Whoever advised the government to antagonize the Islamic forces in general out of the motivation of fighting misconceived Islamic terrorism was not helpful to the image of the government. Its policy of secularism is placed in juxtaposition as a result of it.Some fear has been created among many that Islam is not safe in the hands of the Awami League government. The Awami League is too keen to find Islamic terrorism in Bangladesh purely for political reason of its own. To explain more clearly, to suit its authoritarian politics. We should have learnt much earlier that had our educated ones not been indifferent about the grip of the opportunists the void in political  leadership is bound to derail the wobbly democracy. It was a matter of time that any hope of good governance will be banished in favour of authoritarianism. Our pride that we fought the liberation war for democracy is under serious challenge. After the last national election held under the amended Constitution there should have been no doubts that change of government through election would not be possible. The government intended to win the election with the full force of the state power. The family leadership of the type to which we became easily vulnerable proved that the opportunists seized the opportunity while our intelligentsia slept. To such family leaders democracy has no meaning. So they permitted themselves to be used by the opportunists who have arranged the monopoly kind of election to justify continuance of the two ladies of the two major parties in power by turn despite their proven failure  while in power.The politicization of lawyers and journalists in particular made civil society almost non-existent. The press as the fourth pillar of democracy was divided right in the middle as pro-Awami League and pro-BNP factions. But our intelligentsia just watched from the sidelines that the democracy is being ruined.The considerations of good governance have yielded to the question of protecting the system of cronyism and corruption.This time the Awami League alliance  took full advantage of the weak political foundation of the BNP to end the election process altogether for making change of government through election anything but impossible.Thus the Awami League did what was bound to happen. The bluff of election  democracy has been demolished through a  bluff election. Institutional  structure of democracy was  made so weak that there was no institutional  check available against destruction of democracy through unconstitutional means.The diplomats of the Western democracies also played a mischievous role whether knowingly or not is immaterial. They came every five years to help us to hold the deceptive elections which did not help us to make progress along the democratic path. Thus helped the dwindling democracy to become weaker and weaker. May be they also thought only of their business interest without thinking how important it was to save Bangladesh as an example of moderate Muslim democracy.Now the house of democracy has been broken down. The political leadership for democracy  has not grown. There is no easy answer as how to revive  democracy in Bangladesh. The people are deeply worried about the future peace and stability and it is essential that we think in terms of national priority and not just party power struggle. There is no choice but for the nation to get united for saving the country for our own freedoms and the need of good governance.