Is politics headed towards conflict?

EditorialProthom Alo illustration

What is the answer to the public sufferings, the clashes and conflict over the two-day programmes of ruling Awami League and opposition BNP, the killing of a Krishak Dal activist in Lakshmipur and hundreds of people being injured countrywide?

For quite some time now the political arena has been heated with the programmes of various political parties. But many could not conceive that this heat would turn into clashes and conflict so soon. The government may blame the opposition for the violence over the two days, but the opposition can blame the government too. None of this, however, will compensate the losses of the people and property.

According to Prothom Alo reports, there were clashes and attacks involving three sides in seven districts. In some places the law enforcement obstructed the BNP march, in some places Awami League attacked the BNP leaders and activists. In a democratic system, every party has the right to meetings and rallies. Why should there be clashes and conflict over these programmes? Why will one side attack the other?

BNP first took up its march programme on 18 and 19 July in Dhaka and various divisional and district towns. Had Awami League not taken up similar programmes at the same time, perhaps these clashes would not have ensued. What Awami League did was a deliberate instigation. By staging these counter programmes, they have revealed their political obduracy.

It is the responsibility of the government, that is, the law enforcement, to ensure peace. It is clear that they are not carrying out this responsibility with neutrality. According to media reports, on 18 July the law enforcement obstructed BNP’s march at various points. The ruling party leaders and activists joined in at certain places too. In some places the BNP leaders and activists tried to resist these attacks.

BNP is conducting a movement in demand of the government’s resignation and the election to be held under a non-party government. On the other hand, Awami League is inflexible in its stand about holding the election in keeping with the constitution. They say they will not budge an inch from the constitution. This confrontational stance reminds us of 1995-96and 2004-2006. If both sides remain inflexible in their stands, how will a solution be reached?

One way is to settle things on the streets. The other way is to reach a solution acceptable to all by means of dialogue. The political leadership is surely aware of the massive damages the public has to face if the problems are to be settled on the streets. If both sides want a fair, inclusive and peaceful election, then why are they not sitting together to work out a solution?

No matter what the ruling party and the opposition party may be thinking, the people want peace and stability. Political unrest and violence has brought immense losses to the country in the past. It is in no way warranted that there be fresh losses to the economy and wealth of the country. So it is through dialogue that the election-related problems must be solved. That is the only way in democracy. The delegations of development partners that have visited the country recently, have also emphasised that dialogue is the way to resolve the problems.

We hope, in the greater interests of the country and democracy, that the political leadership avoids any aggressive action in the streets and do not hesitate in searching for a solution to the election-related crisis by means of discussion and dialogue.