In this era of globalisation, no country is isolated and every country is interconnected due to multifarious reasons including business, exchange of information and knowledge, technology transfer and labour migration. So countries across the world highly depend on each other. In the process, there are conflicts of interest. It is natural that a country must protect its own interests without harming others. It is also expected that people of a country will determine their fate. Like any other country, big or small, powerful or less powerful, the people of Bangladesh also preserve this right.
Bangladesh politicians also say so. The two major political parties are Bangladesh Awami League and Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). The leaders of these two parties at various occasions and public rallies said the people of the nation are the source of power and owners of the country. Whether the people believe these political statements or not that is a different question. However, in the recent activities of Bangladesh politicians and foreign diplomats, a citizen of the country cannot but wonder whether he or she determines the fate of the country.
As Bangladesh is heading towards elections slated to be held in January next year, various quarters have been active and vocal over the matter. Over the past one year, the US said they want to see a free and fair election in a peaceful manner in Bangladesh. They have declared visa restrictions to be applied against those impede the democratic process and the peaceful elections. US officials recently visited Bangladesh and engaged various stakeholders including politicians, media personalities and civil society members and made an urge to hold a free and fair election in Bangladesh. European Union also said they want a free and fair election in Bangladesh.
China, however, said they don't want external interference in the internal affairs of Bangladesh. Simultaneously, the second populous country in the world also said the people of Bangladesh will take any decision. The most populous country India said they want a free and fair election in Bangladesh. They country also said people will take the decision.
Like Bangladesh partners the US, European Union, China, India, the ruling Awami League said they want to hold free and fair election this time. The main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) wants a free and fair election. If all the parties have a same goal, a free and fair election, what is the problem in holding a free and fair election. Why are the major opposition parties including BNP launching movements?
If we look back to two previous elections in 2014 and 2018, those elections were not fair. In 2014, 154 members of parliament won unopposed in the election boycotted by the main opposition BNP while in 2018, the ballots were stuffed on the previous night of the election day. That is way the ruling party leaders said they want to hold a fair election this time. As the previous two elections were not fair under the ruling Awami League, the BNP has been launching movement, seeking the election under the caretaker government or neutral government. But the ruling Awami League said a free and fair election will be held under prime minister Sheikh Hasina.
Under such a situation, the bitterness between Awami League and BNP has intensified, amid such a critical situation, diplomats from various countries, especially the US and European Union intervenes. Even AL and BNP leaders met US ambassador Peter Haas and discussed the election issue. Despite their meetings with foreign diplomats, both of them blame each other. Awami League said BNP has no trust in the people and they are afraid of election while BNP alleged the ruling Awami League will not win if a fair election is held under a neutral government.
Pointing to "constitutional obligations", the ruling Awami League government is determined to hold the election on time whether the opposition contest the election or not. The opposition BNP is hell-bent to force the government to hold the election under a neutral government. The party organised a grand rally on 28 October to mount pressure on the government to concede to their demand. However, the rally was foiled as the police used force following clashes with the law enforcers. The BNP blamed the police and the ruling party men for the incident while the police and the ruling Awami League blamed BNP.
Since the incident, the opposition and the like minded parties and Jamaat-e-Islami have been enforcing hartal and blockades to force the government resign and hold the election under a neutral government. If hartals and blockades go on, the ongoing economic crisis will intensify further. Ultimately, the country will bear the burnt.
It is the responsibility of the political parties to reach a consensus to hold a free and fair election. They should hold dialogue to narrow the gap. But this initiative is not in sight. Even the US has suggested holding a dialogue and political scientists also said the government and the opposition should sit together and discuss. Whoever win the election and whoever is defeated, the people want a peaceful solution and most of them want to vote for the candidates of their choices.
If the government thinks that the people are the owners of the country and source of power as well as the opposition BNP thinks, what is wrong to sit together and discuss to resolve the differences over a fair election?
Does actually our government and the opposition believe in the power of the people or they believe in the power of influential countries? Let's wait to see!