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Back to Square One

March 20, 2014

Recent round of local govt. election ended with unprecedented degree of violence. Never before had there been so much violence, in recent years, in upazila election at the time it was being held.

But the earlier rounds were held quite peacefully. In all these rounds, BNP backed candidate did well than their Awami counterparts. But the result of shibganj upazila election in Bogra shocked everyone. This upazila witnessed the worst post- Sayedee verdict violence. How could a criminal who actively took part in violence and waged a war against the country contest in upazila poll?

There are enough reasons to cast doubt on whether AL is really calling the shots. More than two and half months have passed since January 5 election. The haunting images of pre and post-election violence are still vivid in our memory. Little progress is made on the probe on derailment, Molotov cocktail campaign and communal violence. Many perpetrators linked to this type of incidents have not yet been brought to book. 

Proceedings of International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) are ebbing. Furthermore, PM was seen with high officials of Islami Bank Bangladesh Limited (IBBL), which has close ties with terrorist organizations and a major stakeholder of this bank is designated as ‘Conduit for Extremist Finance’ by US authorities. On top of that, just a week ago, a bunch of Jamaat activists joined AL in Pabna. All this is feeding the conspiracy theory that some kind of agreement between AL and JeI has been reached.

The conspiracy theory gained further ground when IBBL sponsored a govt. event of record breaking national anthem singing campaign. Growing association between IBBL and party apparatchiks has caused consternation among people. In the wake of widespread criticism, two concerned ministers came up with conflicting explanations.  Bringing a closure to ongoing debate now holds off until a decision made by the Finance Minister.

The incidents certainly call into question AL’s enthusiasm towards anti-terror campaign and trying the war criminals. And AL’s sins do not end here.

Contrary to actions of a popular democratic party, AL increased the price of electricity. A large part of the increase will be borne by middle and lower-income groups. The announcement was made, in a cunning way, on the eve of T-20 world cup and at the beginning of weekend.

Critics say the price hike has been done to ease the quick-rental power plant owners, mostly incumbent party stalwarts who are facing difficulties to run fuel-based plants.

Both organizationally weak BNP and left parties opposed the decision. Only left parties manifested their protest in public forums and on streets.

Not only has the opposition, however small it is, failed to restrain AL from raising electricity price, it may not prevent AL from implementing mega infrastructure project like Padma Bridge, which requires more time and more transparency.

 What is damaging for AL, and less acceptable to many Bangladeshis, is public presence of PM’s family members and relatives in big cultural and sports events. Moreover, special appearance of PM’s son on TV simply calls up the memory of opposition leader’s son. Without holding any important portfolio, he was frequently portrayed as someone very important in the govt. when BNP was in power. What qualitative changes did this AL led alliance bring to Bangladesh?

Sometimes, it seems both party chiefs treat their parties like a private limited company where the owner of the company has the last word for everything.

In subcontinent, parliamentary democracy is unlike the one practiced in the West. Even in subcontinent’s standards Bangladeshi democracy is downgraded to less tolerant authoritarianism in last one decade. Sloppy management of the country, unchecked corruption, eye dazzling mega events, tsarist attitude and growth of crony capitalism are just ugly display of this dynastic authoritarianism. What is more frustrating is lack of interest in the parties to put an end to all these. 

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From → Analysis

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