Martial law-style election no longer possible: Harun-or-Rashid

Mizanur Rahman Khan | Update:

Harun-or-RashidThe incumbents will not be able to manipulate the elections in the age of information technology and in view of increasing public awareness, political science professor Harun-or-Rashid says, amid fear about fair elections.

Also, he thinks, the government can hardly carry out wrongdoings in the national elections if an opposition political party has popular base.

"We know about wrongdoings in the elections during the martial law regimes -- how the votes were rigged and parliamentary seats were distributed. That type of elections is no longer possible," he said in an interview with Prothom Alo.

Harun, vice chancellor of National University, cited the victory of BNP in the mayoral election of Sylhet City Corporation, despite, what he refrained from mentioning, allegations of massive rigging and ballot stuffing.

Known to be a pro-Awami League intellectual, he expressed his confidence that all the political parties would join the 11th parliamentary elections that may be held at the end of December or in early January 2019.

When asked about the legitimacy of the 5 January one-sided election boycotted by opposition parties and the AL's clinging on to power for an entire five years, he said the BNP is responsible for such a predicament because of its failure to compel the govenment to call snap polls.

"This is what is politics -- the ruling party will not willingly go for another election," he observed.

Professor Harun still believes that the popularity of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) is on the decline following the opposition's 'violent' demonstration for 93 days in 2015.

Then asked how many parliamentary seats BNP may get out of 300 in the elections, he said the party was in a crisis before the 5 January in 2014 and that has worsened further in the last five years.

"The crisis-hit BNP has been compelled to join the Jatiya Oikya Front," he said. "The front led by Gano Forum president Kamal Hossain offers means to the BNP and the Jamaat to survive."

Asked what if the BNP boycotts the next general elections, Harun said, "That would be the last nail in their coffin."

When asked why Awami League and its allies remain silent about slapping a ban on the Bangladesh Jammat-e-Islami as a party blamed for war crimes, Harun said it is essential to ban Jamaat.

When his attention was drawn to incidents of 400 extrajudicial killings and 58 enforced disappearances in nine months, the political scientist said,"Those who believe in democracy and rule of law, cannot support this kind of activities. It deserves deeper study as to why such incidents are taking place."

Asked whether there was any change in India’s stand on Bangladesh, Harun said New Delhi will back the current regime, especially its policy of not allowing use of territory Bangladesh by any terrorist group against India.

* This piece, originally published as interview text in Prothom Alo print edition, has been rewritten in story format in English by Rabiul Islam.

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