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"Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is good enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong; they are the ones to attain felicity".
(surah Al-Imran,ayat-104)
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User Name: abdulruff
Full Name: Dr.Abdul Ruff Colachal
User since: 15/Mar/2008
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Bangladesh: Poll and Power Struggle 

-DR. ABDUL RUFF COLACHAL 

 

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Today Bangladesh, green and beautiful country, known as a land of rivers and canals,  is being controlled  politically by close relatives of two former premiers Mujib and Zia. 

 

The crude rivalry between the jail returned leaders Mrs Sheikh Hasina and Mrs. Khaelda Zia  has vitiated the political and social atmosphere of the nation 

 

Bangladesh in South Asia is one among the developing Muslim nations seeking to  be in the good books of world powers like USA and EU, among other such terrocracies,  by employing anti-Islamism as the key tool of  regime policy. 

 

 

Anti-Islamic Rivalry 

 

 

In fact,  Bangladesh has been  undergoing  serous political turmoil  because of two major political parties, run by  rich ladies, Hasina and Zia respectively,  seeking power for personal gains and targeting the other, the opposition leader. . 

 

 

Mrs Sheikh Hasina (President Mujibur Rahman's daughter)  and wife of former premier Khaelda Zia.  have been at perpetual war seeking to gain power in order mainly to target the other, rather than helping the  people- especially  the poor solve their day to day life problems.

 

The political war of intolerance of the two parties Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and Awamy Party (AP) has genuinely harmed the nation's Islamic life and equality requirements of the nation. . 

 

A Muslim country in South Asia with about 90% of Muslims,  Bangladesh is located on the fertile Bengal delta. It is bordered by the Republic of India to its north, west and east, by the Union of Myanmar (Burma) to its south-east and by the Bay of Bengal to its south. It is separated from the Democratic Republic of Nepal and the Kingdom of Bhutan by the narrow Indian Siliguri Corridor. Together with the neighbouring Indian state of West Bengal, it makes up the ethno-linguistic region of Bengal

 

The name Bangladesh means "Country of Bengal" in the official Bengali language. The borders of modern Bangladesh took shape during the Partition of Bengal and British India in 1947, when the region became the eastern wing of the newly formed state of Pakistan

 

An independent Bangladesh was born in 1971 upon a bloody war of independence from Pakistan which was assisted by India. After its independence, Bangladesh was governed by an Awami League government, with Mujib as the Prime Minister, without holding any elections. In the 1973 parliamentary elections, the Awami League gained an absolute majority. A nationwide famine occurred during 1973 and 1974. On 15 August 1975, Mujib and most of his family members were assassinated by mid-level military officers. 

 

Like Pakistan, military's lead role or  government is common in Bangladesh.  Lieutenant General Ziaur Rahman, took over the presidency in 1977 as Justice Sayem resigned. President Zia reinstated multi-party politics, introduced free markets, and founded the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). Zia's rule ended when he was assassinated by elements of the military in 1981

 

The country endured decades of poverty, famine, political turmoil and numerous military coups. Since the restoration of democracy in 1991, the country has experienced relative calm and economic progress, though the country's main political parties remain polarized. With a population of more than 160 million people in a territory of 56,977 sq mi, Bangladesh is the world's eighth most populous country, as well as one of the world's most densely populated countries

 

A founding member of SAARC,  Bangladesh continues to face a number of major political and social challenges, including endemic bureaucratic and political corruptionwidespread povertypolitical instabilityoverpopulation and vulnerability to global climate changeBangladesh-India relations have gone through several hiccups in the last forty years. A major source of tension is water-sharing on 56 common rivers, as well as border security and barriers to trade and investments. Also, both countries have accused each other of harboring insurgent groups.

 

 

Since Pakistan is called an Islamic nation, Bangladesh does not want to be known  like that. Anti-Pakistan mindset suits both India and Bangladesh  The USA is a major development partner of Bangladesh, providing over six billion dollars in aid since 1972. American companies are the largest foreign investors in the country, and the US is also the largest market for Bangladeshi exports.

 

Bangladesh  under the premier Mrs Sheikh Hasina, wife of former  military general  and first president of newly established nation and ruling Awami Party,  Mujib Rahman has been targeting Islam to gain profits from the anti-Islamic world of nations, both neighbors sand  far off nations. 

 

The incumbent Hasina government’s term expires on January 24 and the polls for  electing a regime has been fixed for January 5, 2014. As per the  announcement  made  by the country’s Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmed, Bangladesh goes to the polls to elect the country’s 10th Jatiya Sangsad —national Parliament — on January 5, 2014.. As per the schedule, the last date for the submission of nominations is December 2, scrutiny of nomination papers is to take place on December 5-6 and the last date for withdrawal of candidature is December 13.

 

The opposition led by former Prime Minister Khaelda Zia has demanded that the system be restored and has threatened to boycott the election. The government rejects the demand, and earlier this month proposed forming an all-party government instead.

 

The dispute was infuriated after the independent election commission announced the schedule for the 10th general elections setting January 5, 2014 for voting, a plan immediately rejected by the opposition. 

 

The dispute in fact centers around who would oversee an election the government has to hold within the next three months. A system of caretaker governments taking people from outside the parties has been used for 15 years, but the government scrapped it after the Supreme Court ruled that the system contradicts the constitution.

 

Turmoil 

 

The political landscape in the south Asian nation appears to be shaped by the seemingly irreconcilable enmity between Hasina and Zia, who have been voted alternatively to power for decades. 

 

Bangladesh is a parliamentary democracy, and the country has been alternately ruled by Hasina and Zia since 1991. But the issue of peaceful transfers of power has remained a major challenge. An agreement between the government and the opposition on how to set up a transitional government would be an important first step towards establishing such a political culture

 

 

Regardless of which party is in office, it marginalizes the opposition, which, in turn, tries to use all the tools at its disposal to assert itself against the government. Through mass demonstrations, violent clashes and general strikes, opposition parties have made clear their anger at the government’s plans. “The opposition wants to flex their muscles and that is the political culture Bangladesh. However, they can’t do that in parliament, so the only place they can do it is on the streets.

 

Political struggle for power is a permanent  in Bangladesh since each of them considers  themselves as the  fittest ruler.  

 

Chief Election Commissioner Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmed said the statutory body waited for days for a settlement of disputes among the major parties but was forced to announce the schedule to comply with a constitutional obligation to stage the polls by January 24, 2014.

 

Rejecting the poll schedule, the BNP led opposition has announced a 48-hour nationwide blockade starting  on 03 December, extended to 72 hours. And, Bangladesh’s main opposition BNP and its right wing allies  began to enforce another 72-hour nationwide blockade demanding postponement of upcoming general elections, a day after ending a deadly protest campaign. December 2 is the last date for submission of nomination papers, meaning the opposition must decide its stance on the polls and nominate candidates in next two days while they so far showed no visible effort for the election preparedness while the ruling party announced names of their nominees for the 300 constituencies.

 

The opposition first called the blockade after the election commission announced the poll plan while the opposition protests in the subsequent three days witnessed massive clashes injuring hundreds across the country. This comes amid major apprehensions about the polls across the nation as the major opposition party BNP has warned of “tougher actions”, going on to say it would “paralyse” the country if the poll schedule is announced without their demand of a neutral caretaker government being met.

 

The ruling Awami League (AL) and the BNP – led by former prime minister Khaleda Zia – disagree on the structure of an interim government in charge of overseeing the elections set to be held before the end of January.  The BNP rejects the prime minister’s plan. The expert says the opposition doesn't trust the government, as they feel that tate bodies in Bangladesh – including the administration, the police force and the judiciary – have become partisan.

 

 

Sheikh Hasina has repeatedly stated that the law requiring the establishment of such a government before elections was scrapped, as it had enabled the military to intervene and take over power. As a compromise, Hasina has suggested forming an “all-party” interim government over which she would preside.

 

 

Bangladesh’s opposition party BNP and its allies have extended their two-day nationwide strike by 23 hours to push for the postponement of the elections, even as 18 people have died in violence in the past three days. The third consecutive day of the blockade began with reports that opposition activists hurled petrol bombs on a police Armoured Personnel Carrier, injuring 10 people. Police retaliated with rubber bullets. Clashes between the protesters and police in south-western Patuakhali left 50 people injured while sporadic incidents of violence were also reported from other parts of the country where the opposition activists torched vehicles, uprooted electric polls and railway tracks.

 

 

The extended blockade announcement came largely frustrating expectations of settlement of opposition disputes with ruling Awami League-led alliance over interim government while the election commission set January 5, 2014 for the 10th general elections, a plan rejected by the opposition.

 

Top legal experts said the major parties must reach a consensus immediately as the independent statutory body was obligated to stage the polls by January 24, 2014 under a constitution deadline giving the commission scopes for deferring the election date by few days only.

 

 

 

Political  Blockade 

 

 

The fresh blockade was called demanding cancellation of the election schedule setting January 5, 2014 for voting and to mount pressure on the Awami League government to release their detained leaders and activists. But in a predawn raid police arrested  Rizvi raiding the BNP central office, while opposition activists launched the second spell of blockade exploding crude bombs and staging brief street marches in the capital. Witnesses said plainclothesmen backed by police in riot gear arrested Mr. Rizvi entering into the BNP office breaking open the main gate as the incident indicated a tough government stance against the opposition escalating tensions.

 

Most of the blockade casualties and act of sabotages were reported from outside Dhaka during the previous 71-hour blockade by the BNP-led 18-party opposition alliance with  Jamaat-e-Islami, that has claimed 22 lives across the country. 

 

 

Speaking at a rally after a mass prayer for those who were killed during the 71-hour blockade in front of the party office, opposition again urged the election commission to shelve the poll plans until the major parties resolved their dispute.

 

Meanwhile, the death of Jamaat activist day took the toll to 23 in the past one week of violence. But the capital Dhaka apparently witnessed the worst part of the violence as at the last leg of the blockade, arsonists set afire a bus in the capital with 19 passengers on Thursday while two of the burn victims died later. The opposition denied setting fire to the bus, blaming the government, as state minister for home Shamsul Haque Tuku called the arsonists “animals in human disguise”.

 

Fading image 

 

Image of Bangladesh has been at a low ebb as the nation is y to project  its real goal and genuine leaders with Islamic thoughts for human development are yet to  enter politics. 

 

Unpopularity of the  Hasina regime is evident from the antipathy  and opposition from the  people towards the government. . The disengagement  of the populations for the government  is growing steadily. 

 

The Hasina government, which was elected in late 2008 by a large majority, has now lost much of its support among voters ho feel the improved economy of the country has no relevance for the people- the  beneficiaries are the  big business communities and  the rich.  The number of Bangladeshis who perceive the country to be on the right track has fallen from 70 percent four years ago to around 40 percent now.

 

Hasina, who heads the Awami League, alleged that BNP was trying to evade the upcoming general elections fearing its defeat and added that that main opposition party’s decision was also influenced by Jamaat, the party which faces a ban under a High Court verdict. 

 

Ms. Hasina had earlier told a party meeting that the elections would be held in due time and urged people to cast their votes and alleged BNP was trying to evade the polls sensing their defeat. 

 

 

However, adding to  Hasia's misfortune, several fire disasters, the collapse of a garment factory which killed more than a thousand people as well as strikes and protests over working conditions and minimum wages in the textile industry have contributed to the government’s woes and drawn criticism.

 

In order to gain popularity among non-Muslims and anti-Islamic sections of the country, the regime  was seen engaged in  focusing on war if independence and  targeting her  political opponents. The International Crimes Tribunal (ICT), set up by Hasina at the request of a majority of the population to investigate and mete out justice for the atrocities committed during the 1971 war of independence against Pakistan, has led to serious social upheaval. The verdicts being delivered by the court have led to violent protests and a polarization of society along religious lines.

 

All cabinet ministers have resigned in order to facilitate the formation of the all-party interim government.

 

Hasina is increasing becoming  aware of her losing power. On 30th November evening, in a rare telephone call, Hasina invited her arch rival Zia to dinner to her official residence on Monday to discuss the issue and requested a stop to the general strike that began Sunday morning. Zia refused, saying she would consider the invitation after the 60-hour strike expires on 03rd December  evening.

 

 

BNP Stronger 

 

Obviously, the bad time  of madam Hasina has turned good fortunes for her rival madam Zia who is viewed today as a better leader than the former.  

 

 

The BNP-led 18-party opposition alliance is demanding installation of a “non-party” government for election oversight with an “acceptable person” as its head. The ruling Awami League rejected the demand calling it “unconstitutional” while Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina asked the opposition to join the poll-time all-party cabinet.The opposition considers the current administration to be “illegal” and demands for the poll to be prepared by a non-partisan caretaker government.

 

The BNP is now ahead in many of the constituencies that the ruling party won in the last elections, according to the latest polls.

 

Last October, Bangladesh’s largest opposition party, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), called for a nationwide general strike which lasted for weeks and turned violent in some parts of the country. All over the country, BNP supporters took to the streets, torched dozens of cars and clashed with police forces. More than 20 people were killed. On November 9, three BNP leaders were taken into custody on allegations of instigating violence.

 

 

Shahbag Movement than merely a reaction to the ICT verdicts, says the Bangladesh expert. “The movement should also be understood as a symptom of dissatisfaction with the existing political power structures. There were many business people, academics and doctors among the protestors. They all call for a political culture in which professional success doesn’t come with abuse of office, corruption and political party affiliation.”

 

Media reports quoting unidentified opposition sources said the BNP-led 18-party alliance with Jamaat-e-Islami being a major partner was likely to come up with fresh protests.  The TV channels reported that sabotage on tracks led to derailment of a passenger train near central Comilla past midnight, injuring several passengers, while the blockaders uprooted 71 feet of railway tracks in north-western Bogra disrupting train movements in the region.

 

 

Police filed cases against 17 BNP leaders including acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir and Rizvi on charges of instigating the arson, prompting BNP chief and ex-prime minister Khaleda Zia to issue a statement demanding immediate withdrawal of the cases.

 

UN officials in Dhaka said secretary general Ban Ki-moon would send a “political mission” to Dhaka on December 6 in an effort to bridge the gaps between the two parties after Western nations and neighbouring countries like India and China engaged their efforts for an amicable settlement of the deadlock. According to one estimate, political violence since January this year has killed 348 people in Bangladesh.

 

Tentative Observation 

 

Bangladesh, formerly known as East Bengal, a district within India, is deeply involved in serious, seemingly never-ending  political crisis.  Leaders are selfish and revengeful which is dishonor to democracy,. . 

 

Madams Hasina and Zia have been jailed for rampant corruption and  other forms of crimes. While Hasina seems to have backing from India, USA and even Saudi Arabia ( where she had been  on "holy" voyage after  jail term ) , Madam Zia does not  have such overt foreign support. 

 

As election day nears, the situation in Bangladesh is becoming increasingly volatile.  government plans for an all-party government to oversee the poll have been met by the opposition with general strikes and violence.

 

The ruling party is now waiting to see how much strength, how much muscle power the BNP has. If they are really capable of paralyzing public life in Bangladesh and generating all this violence, then the AL will be willing to reach a compromise.

 

Political commentators say  if the stalemate continues, PM Hasina might risk the possibility of a military intervention. 

 

Chief election commissioner Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmad, however, told reporters that the poll plans could be revised if the political parties reached an understanding.

 

An agreement between the government and the opposition on how to set up a transitional government would be an important first step towards establishing such a political culture.

 

Hopes are now pinned on  the opposition to reach a compromise in the end with the government for a caretaker government. But in order to achieve this it is crucial that the key issue regarding who should preside over this government is resolved by mutual agreement.

Who will tie the bell? 

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