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01st-Dec-2015

BNP must democratize itself: Hereditary leadership is over

By MAINUL HOSEIN

All political parties are preparing for the forthcoming municipal elections. These elections are to be held openly on the basis of party nominations under party banners. Loyalty of the candidates to party leaderships will have the main consideration.The Election Commission has refused to delay municipal elections even by two weeks at the request of the opposition. Once again it has been reminded that the opposition has no importance. The elections will not change the temperature or tension rising at national level over national politics. The future of democracy will continue to be uncertain in the midst of disorder and deterioration of law and order.It should be clear to all by now through recent bitter experiences that cosy hereditary leadership is no good in the present march of power politics. In hereditary politics a time comes when free and fair people's election has to be guillotined to tighten the grip of the vested interests on power. Conspiracy against popular representation becomes a permanent affair. It is what has been happening in Bangladesh.Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) now the largest party in opposition has to think seriously if it wants to establish itself as a credible democratic alternative. Otherwise as an oppressed and exhausted party it will vanish hopelessly in thin air. Though opposition to the government will not go away, it never does.It is for everybody to see that hereditary leadership of Awami League and BNP jointly over the years stifled democracy by crippling the democratic institutions. Democracy cannot stand on its own without democratic institutions. Now the question is how to save democracy by resisting its inevitable demise. Neither of the parties under hereditary leadership has felt the importance of practising democracy within their parties. And so not outside as well.In a parliamentary system a defeated prime minister resigns without asking questions and without waiting to be removed by the parliamentary party. But in our politics no such thinking had a place. The leadership had to prove nothing. In course of time each of these parties has become more a mercantile association for personal wealth making for its members than self-less political parties to serve the people.They talked of democracy without allowing leadership change for putting an end to failed leadership for the rise of new leadership adding fresh political dynamism. Leadership change is what that democratic politics keeps alive and kicking.BNP has to realise that the present government has finished the old politics of election and thus democracy as others know. Along with it finished the hereditary politics for both. Awami League has no intention to hold free popular election on the strength of hereditary leadership.  BNP has no chance of facing the challenge of existence in the dying condition of democracy if it cannot embrace change where change is necessary. That challenge can be met only by a responsible and credible democratic alternative. At present, BNP has no such democratic credibility to be a threat to the increasingly undemocratic politics of the present.If BNP can become politically relevant and hence powerful Begum Khaleda Zia, without its chief, will also become strong and less helpless. Now, the way the ball is so set that we shall either have one party rule or serious efforts must be at work to revive true democracy where democratic institutions will be muscled up.To talk about democracy and not to realise after all the ignominies of these years that for BNP to survive as a force it needs to change in mind and heart to be a force of democracy. We do not believe there is no realisation among the BNP leaders themselves that the same old politics of hereditary leadership is not taking them anywhere. They are suffering from the old inertia and lack of confidence in themselves. We do not say for BNP leadership that there is any easy choice but change is the only brave choice it is left with.We do not say Awami government has reasons to feel safe and secure. But it has firmly and blindly chosen a path of no return at whose guidance is not easy to know for sure. Awami League has changed beyond recognition. This politics was most unexpected in free Bangladesh under the leadership of Awami League. They have been led to think that peoples' liberation war was not people's and people must be told what it was about and rule. We shall urge the government also to climb down from the high horse of power and become pro-people and more tolerant. The calm surface is not deep enough for real calm, sudden spark somewhere may turn into an overflowing fire next time.We are deeply worried and that is why we cannot rest without saying what must be said. Our regret is we can all live peacefully and happily if we so desire. Lust for power and greed of the few is our misfortune.