As the opposition mounts its movement against the government, the government comes down hard on the opposition...where will this end?
The Road March is no doubt a unique political culture to muster public support and also express no confidence in the party in power. It is an eye-opener for politicians, social scientists and the civil society which opposes destructive political programmes. It has shown beyond any doubt that without calling hartal (general strike) or any other destructive agitation programme, the party in power could be isolated from the common people who are purportedly the real masters in a democratic or pluralistic society.
In Bangladesh, we are used to the opposition calling hartal, sit-in programmes, etc, against the party in power. But the peaceful Road March programme adopted by the main opposition BNP has won the people's support and has accelerated the isolation of the party in power from the common people. At the beginning of 2010, BNP’s popularity ranged between 21 to 23 percent. After the four Road March programmes in Sylhet-Rajshahi-Khulna-Chittagong, BNP’s popularity soared up to 37 per cent and ruling Awami Leagues’ popularity fell by two per cent. It had been 37 per cent in 2010.
Political pundits believe that BNP could muster more support if they could erase the negative public perception about the party’s Senior Vice Chairman Tareque Rahman, who is also the elder son of the Leader of Opposition Khaleda Zia. A section of intelligentsia still hold a negative perception about Tareque Rahman and consider the Leader of the Opposition’s call to hand over power to the younger generation nothing but a desire to make her elder son as the kingpin of the country. The perception of the West about Tareque Rahman is not also very positive. The western world, especially US and the European Union, still hold strong reservations about BNP’s Senior Vice Chairman. They strongly believe that Tareque Rahman was responsible for misrule during the four-party alliance rule (2002-2006). Tareque Rahman’s relation with the underworld leader Dawood Ibrahim has been a matter of concern for the Delhi administration. If they want to gain from the present movement, BNP should take these matters into cognizance.
The spontaneous participation of the common people in the different Road March programmes and the last mass rally held on January 30 has been a wake-up call for the ruling party. However, the ruling party is apparently not very interested in redressing their misdeeds, which have been the major cause for their isolation from the people. Instead, they are adopting repressive and other unethical measures to face the opposition threat and also to ensure a second term entry to public office. If everything moves in the right track, the next general election would be held in early 2014.
The recent police firing at Chandpur, Laximpur and Rajshahi, which claimed lives of five political activists -- four BNP men and one Jamaat man -- demonstrated the ruling party’s rough and tough attitude to the opposition. This was the first time after the fall of military ruler HM Ershad in 1990, that political activists lost their lives in police firing. Like the all autocratic regimes, the government has blamed the opposition for the police firing. The opposition people were killed simultaneously the opposition people were inducted in the case.
The government is also planning to persecute the opposition leader and workers by using judicial process. The government leaders and workers were pardoned from the different corruption and criminal cases whereas the opposition leaders and workers are persecuted under the same offence. All the figure head of BNP including Khaleda Zia and Tareque Rahman are the target of the government. All the corruption cases filed during last army backed government against the leader of the opposition have been activated. The charge sheet has been filedagainst Begum Zia for the Orphanage Trust corruption case, which would be hard on February 15 next. It is widely believe that the leader of the opposition would be convicted in this case within next couple of months and she would not be able to contest the next general election till she gets clearance from the judiciary process. The similar fate also waits for Tareque Rahman.
Besides Khaleda Zia and Tareque Rahman, all figure heads of the BNP leadership would also face similar music if they refused to accept the government formula, which is rejecting Khaleda Zia’s leadership and participating in the next general election under the party government.
Such a proposal would also be forwarded to younger section of Jamaat leadership. They would be asked why should bear the burden of the party's senior ranking leadership's past activities. If the younger section is ready to accept the government proposal, at least half a dozen or more people from Jamaat would be seen in the next parliament. Ruling party sources confirm that all these developments would take place within the next six months.
The BNP high command especially the BNP Chairperson and Leader of the Opposition is aware about the government blue print and has prepared an alternative blue print in which the cut-off date is March. All possible stones would be turned to create a deadlock and force the government to accept the caretaker government and mid-term general election. BNP leadership firmly believes this would be the first time that an elected government would not be able to complete its full term.
The government is also waiting for the formation of the new Election Commission (EC) and passing a law for strengthening EC to defuse the demand of caretaker government. If the party in power could tackle the situation, the mid term general election could be held either in December or first part of 2013.
Both sides are flexing their muscles for the final round. If BNP wins, that will call an end to the political life of the current Prime Minister. If the Prime Minister wins, that would call an end to political life of Begum Zia and her family. If nobody wins, then what?
Political pundits predict two options: One is the direct rule of invisible forces for a couple of month. Another is the long-term rule of invisible forces under a civilian color, like that of Fakruddin-Moinuddin and a general election after a massive reform agenda, which would end dynastic politics. The second option is more likely, political pundits say.
BY : Badiul Alam.