Today is the fourth anniversary of the tenth parliamentary election held on 5 January 2014. The political parties will evaluate the day from their respective perspectives. Those at the helm of power see this as a day marking the continuity of democracy. And opposition BNP have declared this a black day for democracy.
The rights and the interests of the people, outside of these two political circles, cannot be overlooked. The first right of any citizen in a democratic system is the right to chose representatives of their choice. And that is to be done through free, fair and participatory elections. The ruling party claims that the last election was one-sided because the opposition did not participate. And the opposition said they refused to step into the government’s trap of a rigged election. Whatever the case may be, the voters could not vote for candidates of their choice in the 5 January 2014 election. Of the 300 parliamentary seats, candidates were elected uncontested in 153.
It is really unfortunate that even 46 years after independence, our political leadership has failed to reach a consensus concerning the election. They must bear the blame for this. The government may take credit for remaining in power for four uninterrupted years despite the election being a one-sided one. The parliament has been intact too. However, that does not mean that democracy has been consolidated in any way. On the contrary, it is unfortunate to see the gradual erosion of the democratic and constitutional institutions.
An active and strong opposition is required for any democratic system. However, we have not seen any such opposition in parliament. And outside of the parliament, the opposition could not hold rallies and public meetings due to obstructions by the government. In this backdrop, almost all political parties are embroiled in preparations for the next election. Even the recent reshuffle in the cabinet apparently aims at the election.
The people want a free, fair and credible election with the participations of all parties. The election commission has a pivotal role to play here, but they can do nothing without the cooperation of all political parties. There are 4.3 million new voters, according to the election commission. Most of the new voters could not vote in the 5 January 2014 election as it was a one-sided one. This must not be repeated. We must shun the culture of one-sided elections and boycotting the polls.