Our political leadership often seems to forget that politics requires ethics and absolute tolerance. Many a time there is no trace of modesty and courtesy in their language. Especially the leaders of ruling party prefer show of force over reason.

The ruling Awami League and the opposition BNP are confronting each other centring the coming national elections. Awami League reiterating the election will be held under the partisan government while BNP demands the incumbent government to resign and the election be held under a non-partisan government. Both the parties and their allies are holding programmes almost every day to explain their respective political stances. All the parties and organisations have the right to hold meetings in a democratic system. But holding counter-programmes is by any means unwarranted.

BNP held rallies in nine divisional cities outside Dhaka in support of their 10-point demands without any obstacles. But Awami League announced to put party leaders and activists on guard on the day of BNP programme in Dhaka. On top of that, AL also held two rallies in Dhaka. Later, the ruling party also held a “peace rally” on the day of BNP’s district and upazila-level programmes that resulted in scuffles at several places.

Recently, BNP announced a march at the union-level on 11 February. Awami League also called for a “peace rally” on the same day. BNP claimed, party leaders and activists from various wards will gather in front of the respective Union Parishad offices and the leaders will explain the party’s position. Where would the AL hold the peace really in this situation? There would be a chance of conflict between the workers of the two parties if the AL also held the rally in front of the Union Parishad offices.

We beg to question as to why the ruling party has to follow the opposition party? Awami League should announce their programme in advance. In that case BNP can shift their programme on another day. This is an example of modesty and tolerance in politics. Besides, people will have to suffer if two big parties hold their rallies on the same day at same place. A political party with minimal compassion and responsibility towards the people cannot take up such counter-programme.

We have not witnessed such thing even during the military regime. The opposition party will hold a rally the next day to respond to what the ruling party says to explain its policy and position the previous day. Why would an old party like Awami League announce counter-programme? What kind of political culture is this?

The ruling party must avoid such counter-programmes while taking essential measures to resolve the issues regarding the national elections. How can a country’s politics survive without discussion and compromise? Just because electoral issues were not resolved through discussion in the past, it is not that it cannot be done in the future.

Both government and opposition parties must remember that the people own the country. Many parties in the past have lost their ground by not being able to respect people’s expectations. It is important to maintain political courtesy and tolerance if we do not want history to repeat itself.

A fair and participatory election recognising the sovereignty of the people is the need of the hour. The consequences of turning a blind eye to this demand will bring no good for anyone. Do not push the country into conflict.