In search of a parliamentary opposition

Prothom Alo English Desk | Update:

parliamentAbsence of a strong, credible opposition in new Jatiya Sangsad (national assembly) will limit the scope for some much-needed debate on the issues plaguing the country, an India-based research organisation has observed.

Observer Research Foundation has pointed out that some members of parliament who were elected as component of the Awami League-led grand alliance, are expected by the ruling party to move to the opposition bench.

Such a scenario is said to be unlikely “unless of course the AL formally puts an end to the alliance.”

“That too will raise questions, for these non-AL lawmakers were elected as part of a team headed by the AL,” the foundation said in an article “Bangladesh: The search for a parliamentary opposition”.

It also raised question about the constitutional position of the non-AL MPs if they are ditched by the AL or if they volunteer to move out of the grand alliance.

The AL and its allies won almost 290 out of 300 seats in the 30 December elections, result of which was rejected by the BNP. The BNP won only six seats and decided not to join parliament.

“The Awami League’s triumph in the 30 December polls last year has of course been questioned by its rivals,” the article pointed out.

It was published on Tuesday, the day before the Jatiya Sangsad began its first-ever session as the principal opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party called for fresh polls, alleged rigging, ballot stuffing and snatching of public mandate.

The foundation article reads: “... to what extent ruling party lawmakers themselves will be in a position to generate convincing and profound discussions in the House on these issues is not, at this stage, easy to imagine.”

Jatiya Party of former military ruler HM Ershad, which won 22 seats and was simultaneously official opposition party in parliament and partner of the previous cabinet, has agreed to play the role of the opposition in new parliament, the article mentioned.

“...what worries citizens is whether, if at all, the Jatiya Party will be able to perform as the kind of forceful opposition which the BNP would have,” noted the article adding that “the JP has never quite been taken seriously by political observers owing primarily to its lack of popular appeal and its inability to fashion credible political programmes in parliament or outside.”

Prime minister Sheikh Hasina formed her new cabinet, dumping, apart from some party stalwarts, Workers Party leader Rashed Khan Menon, leader of a faction of Jatiya Party Anwar Hossain Manju and leader of one faction of Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal Hasanul Haq Inu.

According to foundation article, they have declined to entertain any notions of going into opposition on the ground that as partners of the AL. They went to the electorate with the AL’s election symbol of boat.

“That places them in a predicament: they have not been accommodated in government and they are reluctant to be in opposition,” the article said.

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