Electoral politics, peaceful solutions and neutral civil society

Dr. Mahfuz Parvez, Associate Editor, Barta24.com
Electoral politics, peaceful solutions and neutral civil society

Electoral politics, peaceful solutions and neutral civil society

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A very disappointing feature of Bangladesh's politics, especially the upcoming national elections, which has been tense and conflict-friendly for several months, is that representatives of civil society are unable to work for peace and reconciliation beyond political approval or party identification. Although in theory, a peaceful solution requires civil society to adopt a neutral perspective, in practice it is elusive. Almost everyone is speaking with specific goals, objectives and vision in mind. Although party politics prevails in this, 'overall public interest' is not given due importance. As a result, along with the fear of conflict, the polarization of civil society, civil society, elites and intellectuals is increasing, which in turn is acting as a catalyst for increasing division, distance and tension between the people.

Due to the existing situation, there is nothing left as a 'buffer zone' or 'neutral zone' in Bangladesh at present. Just hearing the names of individuals, speakers, groups and newspapers, we can close our eyes and say 'which side are they on'? Unbiased statements, holistic consideration, and genuine public interest behavior cannot be expected from biased parties. So no one is able to show the light of hope in the political uncertainty of Bangladesh, this is the harsh reality.

As various political parties have mobilized civil society and intellectuals on their behalf, the international community and development partners are doing the same. As a result, the civil society organizations of Bangladesh are not able to rise above their narrow party identity and group interests and show the way out to the people who are in trouble due to the fear of conflict. Also missing is someone who can be proactive in providing peaceful solutions, extend a hand of compassion to all and help promote peace and stability.

It is a matter of particular misfortune that in reality there is no such acceptable person. Rather, these civil society organizations are helping to spread political violence and poison of hatred. It is accompanied by political hypocrisy and shameless brokering. Therefore, there is no way of release ahead for now. As a result, no one knows where the latent conflict ends.

History shows that only neutral leadership and dialogue between civil society and political representatives can thaw relations. However, in the current reality, there is no trace of mutual trust between the leadership. That's why an alternative is needed. A neutral civil society could be the right alternative. Positive change was possible through their initiative. There was a possibility of peace and reconciliation. But that hope is gradually fading.

Meanwhile, the schedule of national elections in November and voting in January, it is known about the 12th national parliament elections. At the same time, there is a deadlock around the elections. As there is no agreement and consensus among the parties, the voice of civil society is also not raised. A fragmented civil society is unable to organize the people to give them a voice and to smooth the path to democracy through constitutional continuity.

If there is no true democracy in a promising country like Bangladesh, if the parliament is not representative of the majority of people - then public interest and development cannot be ensured. That is why fair election process and democratic process should continue in the country by resolving all disputes. People should be allowed to choose their leadership. Bangladesh cannot be pushed into a long deadlock under any circumstances to realize not only the constitution, but also the nation's dream. The entire country and nation cannot be immersed in the mire of small party political differences.

Those who want to be in the leadership for people-friendly-inclusive development of a democratic and just society must first look at the interests of the country and listen to the people. At the same time, we must be wary of the danger of democratic failure and lack of representative government, and the path to building a just society must also be kept smooth.

If these tasks are neglected, the political crisis will intensify as well as development will be interrupted, poverty will increase, people's economic and social life will fall into a more fragile state. It will also be impossible to protect the poor people. The burden of debt will increase, from which new political and social crises will also be created. Needless to say, the market and inflation cannot be controlled long before the elections. Corruption has increased in society manifold and also in various sectors. These are special omens.

Therefore, social stability and balanced development require a continuous transition to democracy. And that will be possible by ensuring consensus, accountability and transparency in the election system. The conflicting electoral politics of the country must therefore come to a compromise on the way to a peaceful solution. And neutral civil society must stand tall to stop political bickering and create favorable conditions for democracy and elections.


‘Elections were open for everyone; they did not come’

Ruhul Amin, Staff Correspondent, Barta24.com
photo: Barta24

photo: Barta24

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One more month left for the 12th parliamentary elections. Like-minded parties including BNP did not participate in the election. The game of hide and seek is going on with the Grand Alliance. There is domestic and foreign pressure to make elections fair, participatory and acceptable. At the same time, the visa policy and economic sanctions of the United States are eye-popping.

Awami League's Joint General Secretary AFM Bahauddin Nasim spoke to Barta24.com about this.

Interviewed by Barta24.com Staff Correspondent Ruhul Amin.

Barta24.com: Bangladesh is now in a very sensitive position geopolitically. Many countries including Europe, USA, Russia, and China are now focusing on the politics and elections of Bangladesh. Moreover, there are rumors that sanctions may come from USA after the election. What does the Awami League think about this?

Bahauddin Nasim: Now nobody can throw us into the Bay of Bengal if they want to. Not in that place. Because it's not just about our will alone, they also have issues, they also have needs. They need it; we need it, the world as a whole. But yes, some are a bit more powerful, some are a bit less powerful. But still the relationship is mutual and multilateral. No one can throw away our economy where it stands. Then they would have finished us earlier with sanctions.

A part rich in negative thinking always sees bad things. Those who cannot dream of good things speak and spread such words. It is also a form of information terrorism. They know very well what stage the economy of Bangladesh is at; we have become a developing nation. But we are recognized internationally. There was such propaganda that the peacekeeping force of Bangladesh will not be taken anymore. Is it possible if you want? Our soldiers have reached number one with professionalism and bravery.

Barta24.com: Recently, Uganda and Zimbabwe have been imposed sanctions and visa bans on allegations of election rigging. Is there a possibility of something like this happening in Bangladesh?

Bahauddin Nasim: Who gave it there, for what reason? It must be explained. There they made laws to prevent the election of parties that could win or form a government with the people's mandate. They were not allowed to participate in the elections. It has not been done in Bangladesh. In Bangladesh they are given all kinds of opportunities to choose. This right has been given to them. They didn't come to the contrary are giving blockades, attacks and arson. So what is the incident of Bangladesh and Cambodia? This truth should be presented to the people of Bangladesh.

Barta24.com: Did Awami League took any initiative to bring BNP and other parties to the election?

Bahauddin Nasim: We will go to the elections, we will participate in the elections. All the registered political parties in Bangladesh should participate in the elections with motivation, to get the people's mandate. They want to overthrow the government and come to the elections without trying to get the people's mandate. Is it constitutionally recognized? Why will the people of the country accept what they want outside of the constitutional rules?

They did not say that they will come to the election. Now they cannot be brought to the election by hand. Or they can't be forced to participate in elections by beating them with sticks, sending the police and catching them. It is his democratic right. What is said here, if the election stands, their nomination will be canceled? Or will they be arrested and sent to prison when they go to file nomination papers in the election? Has there been any such action?

Barta24.com: Does BNP still have a chance to participate in the elections?

Bahauddin Nasim: How? The train is now on its way to reach the modern station of Cox's Bazar.

Barta24.com: Some said that Awami League is creating division in the grassroots by fielding independent or dummy candidates for competitive elections. Tension is being created with this, fights are also happening somewhere. What steps will Awami League take to prevent a long division?

Bahauddin Nasim: We want to hold elections in a festive atmosphere. We want the atmosphere of festival to be created in the election. But already the festive mood of the election has been created. That is what is most important to us.

Independent candidates are constitutionally allowed to stand. Awami League candidates are also independent in some places. It has stood in the past as well. We want popular candidates to be elected by popular vote. That will strengthen democracy. This is our main goal. We are not taking any initiative to forcibly remove anyone from nomination or election. Those who are more popular will be elected, there is nothing wrong here.

Barta24.com: Awami League's grassroots workers are getting divided in favor of boats and independents as they are independent candidates from Awami League. In that case the staff will be with whom? Boat or individual?

Bahauddin Nasim: They will move towards their choice. Since no specific direction has been given by the party so far, what does it mean? What does it mean? But our leaders and workers will understand this. But you also have to understand.

Barta24.com: Many of the senior leaders say that it will be the independent candidates who will face action against them. But you say we will not take any action. Confusion is being created, what do you say about this?

Bahauddin Nasim: There is no confusion among us. If someone says it, ask him. Our core spirit is that elections should be participatory. There are about three thousand candidates in the election, if they participate in the election, is it good or bad? If more candidates participate in the election, those who are popular will win. It is normal that many will get more votes, many will get less. The General Secretary of our party has written about the spirit of the party. That's clear. That is, those who are standing in the 14 parties have also been informed about this matter. They should not withdraw.

Barta24.com: You have been given the responsibility of distributing the seats of the 14 party alliance, how far have you progressed on the matter?

Bahauddin Nasim: We are in discussion. It will end soon. Earlier I said it will be completed by 16-17. I think it will be over before then.

Barta24.com: The partner parties want more seats, in that case, will Awami League distribute the seats according to the expectations of the partners?

Bahauddin Nasim: It is not right to say the matter like this. It is only a matter of getting and wanting. Winnable candidate is given importance in the election. We have told 14 parties that winnable candidates must be given importance.

Barta24.com: Rashed Khan Menon, the president of your ally Workers’ Party, was the Member of Parliament from Dhaka-8 Constituency in the last three elections. Now you have been given the boat for the first time from the seat. How much cooperation partners in the electoral field?

Bahauddin Nasim: I had a conversation today with the former Member of Parliament and senior leader Menon (Worker’s Party President Rashed Khan Menon) brother of this constituency. Partners with us have good relationship both individually and as a team. Everything will end well. There are no new thoughts or fears about it.

Barta24.com: Got nomination from Dhaka-8 seat. If you win, what steps will you take to meet the expectations of the people of the area?

Bahauddin Nasim: Besides doing party work, I will also sit with the activists. It seems to me that there is enthusiasm among people. Awami League field workers, grassroot workers are very happy . I don't consider myself a worthy person. But I understand that you don't have to struggle much to win here. Another thing I think is that the voters will come to the polling station. Will vote for me as Awami League candidate regardless of party opinion.


Father-in-law candidate, Son-in-law District Superintendent of Police; Apply for transfer

Staff Correspondent, Barta24.com, Dhaka
Photo: Barta24.com

Photo: Barta24.com

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A written application has been submitted to the Election Commission Secretariat demanding the transfer of Jashore Superintendent of Police Praloy Kumar Jowardar for the sake of fair elections.

Zakir Hossain Alam, a resident of Kondah village of Sharsha Upazila of Jashore, filed this application on Thursday (November 28). Even after a week has passed after the application, the SP has not yet been transferred.

In his application to the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC), he mentioned that Superintendent of Police Praloy Kumar Jowardar has been working in Jashore district for about three years. He is a resident of Netrakona district but his father-in-law's house is in Manirampur upazila. He is the son-in-law of Swapan Bhattacharya, Minister of State for Rural Development and Cooperatives Swapan Kumar Bhattacharya who got the nomination of Awami League for the same seat. Apart from the reasons of kinship, he has good personal relations with many people, including current Jessore-1 Constituency MP Afiluddin which most people think will influence the upcoming elections.

The application further states that Praloy Kumar Jowardar has recently been promoted as Additional DIG on a regular basis. Generally, regularly promoted officers do not serve in the previous post.

Also, under the direction of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, there are dummy or independent candidates in most constituencies including Jessore-5 (Monirampur) so that no one can win unopposed. Therefore, to keep the voters free from fear and to ensure attendance, this SP has been requested to be transferred.


Jatiya Party and Awami League will work for fair elections: Nanak

Staff Correspondent, Barta24.com, Dhaka
Photo: Collected

Photo: Collected

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Awami League presidium member Jahangir Kabir Nanak said that the Jatiya Party and Awami League will work separately for fair elections.

He said this after a meeting with Jatiya Party leaders on Wednesday (December 6) night. The meeting ended after 10 pm. The meeting was held at Hotel Renaissance in Gulshan-1 of the capital.

Talking to the journalists after the meeting, Nanak said, 'We will work separately from our respective places for fair elections.' At this time, he also said that there was a fruitful discussion with the Jatiya Party regarding the national elections.

Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader led the meeting and Awami League Presidium member Jahangir Kabir Nanak and Joint General Secretary AFM Bahauddin Nasim were also present in this meeting.

On behalf of the Jatiya Party, the party's secretary general Mujibul Haque Chunnu along with two leaders participated in the meeting.

When asked about the discussion of the meeting, AFM Bahauddin Nasim said, 'We had a meeting with the Jatiya Party in a very cordial atmosphere. In the meeting, the Jatiya Party expressed hope that the 12th Jatiya Sangsad(JS) elections will be free, fair, impartial and participatory and through this election Bangladesh's democracy will be strengthened.

He said, 'The Jatiya Party will participate with all its strength in the 12th JS elections and has expressed its determination to strengthen its position in the JS with the people's mandate.'


Hiding over Awami League-JP meeting

Special Correspondent, Barta24.com, Dhaka
Photo: Collected

Photo: Collected

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Confusion has arisen over the meeting between Awami League and Jatiya Party. The venue, time and content of the meeting are being strictly confidential from both sides.

Rumors are rife about multiple meetings. Multiple sources claimed that a meeting between top leaders was held at Ganabhaban on Tuesday (December 5). And on Wednesday (November 6) a meeting was held between senior leaders at the residence of a presidium member of Awami League in Gulshan. Senior Co-Chairman Barrister Anisul Islam Mahmud and Secretary General Mujibul Haque Chunnu led the Jatiya Party there. Some sources have claimed that Amir Hossain Amu, a member of the advisory council, was among the Awami League leaders.

Even after that meeting, Chairman GM Quader and 4 Co-Chairmen sat at Jatiya Party Secretary General Mujibul Haque Chunnu's residence. An untoward incident took place there, a source said.

But the Jatiya Party is completely silent about these meetings and issues discussed. None of the leaders were willing to speak up, but they confirmed the meetings on condition of anonymity. The issue of Jatiya Party's meeting with Awami League came up for discussion on December 5 yesterday.

Awami League Advisory Council member Amir Hossain Amu said after the meeting with the two partners of the 14-party alliance that day, the issue of seat sharing among the 14-party partners will be decided subject to discussion with the Jatiya Party. He hinted at talks with the Jatiya Party on Wednesday.

Jatiya Party Secretary General Mujibul Haque Chunnu denied the seat sharing while admitting the meeting on Wednesday afternoon. He said the meeting will be about the election environment.

Jatiya Party Secretary General Mujibul Haque Chunnu told reporters a few hours before Amir Hossain Amur's speech on December 5 that they have no plans to share seats with the ruling party. In the last election, Jatiya Party's seat agreement was with Awami League. There are mixed opinions about the election environment and seat compromise among the parties.

On November 18, Jatiya Party Secretary General told Barta24.com about the seat settlement rumors that the matter is neither completely true nor false. I cannot comment further at this time.

According to sources, Jatiya Party wants 60 seats from Awami League. On the other hand, green signal has been given by Awami League regarding 35 to 40 seats. Apart from the number of seats, the Jatiya Party also wants to finalize the seats of the top leaders first.

Complications have arisen over the seats of Jatiya Party co-chairman former secretary general ABM Ruhul Amin Howladar, co-chairman former minister Kazi Feroz Rashid MP, co-chairman Jatiya Party leader Salma Islam MP and Syed Abu Hossain Babla MP.

The Jatiya Party, which came to the election through various dramas, gave party nominations in 294 seats. Despite getting party tickets, 6 candidates did not file their nomination papers in the end. Raushan Ershad withdrew from the election on November 29 as his son Saad Ershad's seat was taken by GM Quader and the nomination of his followers was not confirmed.

In addition to party conflicts, the Jatiya Party is suffering from a crisis of trust in the government. The leaders of the party think that Awami League did not keep its promises in any election of 2008, 2014 and 2018. They have been wronged in many ways. From by-elections, upazila parishads to unions, concessions were not given anywhere. JP candidates have been forced to sit in many elections in the past.

They have considerable doubts about how much they will keep their promises this time. That's why Jatiya Party wants to make sure first and then make a decision. They want to be sure in such a way that Awami League can no longer break its promises.

On the other hand, many have commented that the government is not able to fully trust GM Quader.