Why AL may not sit for a dialogue soon?

Why AL may not sit for a dialogue soon?

Prime Minister Shekh Hasina repeatedly stated that there should not be a constitutional vacuum in the country for the sake of democracy and holding of January 5 election was a constitutional necessity. Whether other political parties participated in the election or not, it was their choice but election must be held.

It has been an extraordinary election indeed that the people had witnessed. It is the most challenged election ever held amidst mindless violence. Secondly the majority of voters did not cast their votes and as such 153 MPs were elected uncontested. Third, the election was held keeping the 9th parliament in existence. Fourthly, several rebel- AL candidates fought against the nominated AL candidates and won the elections as “independents”.

The AL realises the weakness of their position because majority of voters could not exercise their constitutional right to vote for their candidates. It is reported that even the President, the Prime Minister and the Chief Election Commissioner were not required to vote because their MPs won uncontested.

The Prime Minister took an oath on 12th January as Prime Minister for the third time. AL claims that it is the first time in the political history of Bangladesh that an elected government handed over power to another elected government. Now AL is on the drive’s seat and has all the power to run the country.

Analysts say BNP miscalculated the political situation. There were two demands—one by BNP and the other Jamaat . BNP wanted poll-caretaker government and to restore it the constitution needs to be amended and AL rejected the demand on the ground of the verdict of the apex court of the land.

BNP argued that the verdict was misconceived by AL and there was scope for two further parliamentary elections, given the trust-deficit between the two major parties-AL and BNP. BNP tried to argue that in the reverse situation whether AL would agree to participate in the election under the BNP government. But that did not cut any ice with the AL.

Jamaat concentrated their demand on scrapping the trial of their leaders who should be released on the ground that the trial was politically motivated.

The aforesaid two issues are totally separate and consequently people’s reaction has also been different. While it is reported that 77% agreed with the BNP stance on the restoration of the non-party caretaker poll-time government, by and large the people overwhelmingly supported the trial of Jamaat leaders charged with crimes against humanity in 1971 Liberation War.

Observers say that by supporting the Jamaat for hartals on the trial issue, BNP’s own demand for the restoration of the caretaker government appeared to have got mixed up and lost its focus. The people were confused about what BNP actually wanted.

Furthermore BNP did not condemn the incidents of arson, throwing petrol bombs on passengers of transport and derailment of trains which resulted in loss of life and limbs. Political The ordinary people got fed up with the disruption of day-to-day life and the popularity of the BNP was reportedly severed damaged and BNP failed to mobilise people for its support against the election.

The stance of BNP suited very well for the AL. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on 20 January reportedly said BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia had to pay for the mistake she did by boycotting the 10th national election.

BNP now changed its policy and realised the ground reality that political movement cannot be carried be forward through violent strategy. BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia recently in her speeches called for peaceful agitation programmes, saying her party did not believe in violence and confrontation.

The Prime Minister reportedly stated that she was not currently thinking of next parliamentary election and her government’s priority has been set to resolve a number of national issues, such as restoration of law and order, reactivation of economic activities in full gear, and speedy implementation of infrastructural development programmes including the commencement of construction of Padma Bridge. To project a positive image of Bangladesh among foreign media and countries, a specific robust programme of action is being taken by the government.

AL’s strategy appears to be that whenever election is held, it must win and therefore is not in a hurry to sit for dialogue with the BNP. The government believes that the implementation of these programmes which may take at least two years will generate contentment among people and AL could win the next election handsomely.

The Hasina government received support from India, Russia and China. When UK, USA and EU will witness that government’s programmes are geared to turning not only terrorist- free but also re-energised economically and politically stable Bangladesh, they are likely to go along with the government, although occasionally they will call for another inclusive and credible election.

The main challenge for the government is to win confidence of the people and AL believes strongly that it can do so with clean administration.

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