August 26, 2004


Bangladesh is being crippled by Hartal (general strike) as another one has been called on the next Saturday.

As Niraj puts it: After the bomb attack, the Awami League could of taken the moral high ground, but instead they choose hartal, squandering their one and only chance to lord it over the BNP.

That is also the general view of the people of Bangladesh who does not have a political affiliation. Of course hardliners of different political parties would have different views. But the fact is that despite having well-established democratic policies, the recent actions of Awami League’s leaders are alienating them from the soft-corners of majority.

Let us look at the political parties in Bangladesh in proportion of their share in the 300 parliament seats and some of their policies:

1. Four Party alliance (currently in power –two-third majority):

a) Bangladesh Nationalist Party - BNP : 195 seats
- Est. in 1977 by President Ziaur Rahman (Late husband of prime minster Khaleda Zia) Promotes Bangladeshi Nationalism.
- In their manifesto it states that they will put their best of efforts to diffuse those parties, which do not promote Bangladeshi nationalism ideology and culture.
- Create a democratic environment and establish people’s rights
- Foreign policy includes international brotherhood without polarizing to specific quarters
- Reformation of Agriculture, education, family planning, culture, manpower development etc.
- Maintains a well informed website, but not updated.

b) Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh : 17 seats
- Established in 1941 promotes rule of Islam i.e. theocracy and form a just and egalitarian society. They have some well-educated leaders but some of their actions in the liberation war 1971 are controversial (loyal to Pakistan and engaged in mass murder). In their words: Constitutionally Bangladesh is neither Islamic nor socialist, it is secular in the sense that the Quran and the Sunnah have not been declared principal sources of law of the country.
- Their aims and objects are establishing the Islamic social order in Bangladesh
- Their programs include:
· Propagation & call (for Islam)
· Organization & Training
· Social Reforms
· To reform the govt. and administration
· Establishing Sharia rule
- The Jamaat-e-Islami is devoted to peaceful and upright means of struggle and a strict adherence to its principle. It devoutly disdains violence and bloodshed (at least in theory as opposed to other radical Islami parties)
- Maintains a well informed website (using blogger) but not regularly updated. And surprise; there is also a post in that site by our good friend Wamy of Moodlogic.

c) Jatiya Party –N.F : 4 seats
- Fraction of Jatiyo Party.

d) Islami Oikya Jote: 3 seats

- Radical Islami party and the leaders are full of controversy.

2. Major Opposition:
a) Bangladesh Awami League - AL : 59 seats
- Founded in 1949 and has produced many influential leaders of the Indian sub-continent and of course the founder father of Bangladesh, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, father of Sheikh Hasina.
- Their manifesto includes: to uphold the ideal of independence and the spirit as well as values of Liberation War
- To recognize human dignity and humanistic values to secure the unity and solidarity of the people of Bangladesh
- To boost up the smooth growth and institutionalization of parliamentary democracy in the right manner and to ensure people’s freedom
- To ensure fundamental human rights irrespective of religion, caste, sex, community, ethnic identity and so on and to provide ample scope for higher standards of living;
- To ensure religious freedom and to eradicate all shades of communalism;
- To build up modern and strong defense system in order to protect the independence and sovereignty of Bangladesh and to contribute to global peace keeping
- To base the foreign policy of the country on the motto, ‘Friendship with all and malice towards none
- Maintains an well informed up-to-date website

3. Other oppositions:
a) Jatiya Party - JP:Ershad : 14 seats
- Founded in 1982 by Lt. General H. M. Ershad (then President assumed power by a coup), who decided to enter in politics. He changed the constitution to name it an Islamic country, however the constitution remained secular in its other aspects. Main policies include:
- Establishing provincial government system
- Freedom of judiciary system
- Law against Hartal.
- Maintains a moderately informed website but not up-to-date

b) Bikalpa Dhara Bangladesh: 1 seat
c) Jatiya Party –Manju : 1 seat
d) Krishak Shramik Janata League: 1 seat
e) Independents: 5 seats

4. Parties with no seats:
a) Communist Party of Bangladesh - CPB
Established in 1948 and produced some good leaders and movement. Is slowly diminishing because of lack of funds after the fall of Soviet communist block. Working for restoration of national and democratic rights of the whole nation as well as that of the working people.
- Maintains a website, not very informative and up-to-date
b) Jatiyo Samajtantrik Dal
c) Et. Al

In comparison of all the policies my favorite would be Awami League, but I am sorry to say the leaders of Awami League are not acting to the greater cause of the peace and stability of general people of Bangladesh. It is true that they are repressed by BNP and there are all the more efforts to keep AL away from power. But AL’s smart and positive reply and movement against this repression is not present. Instead all the movements are diverting to toppling down the government immediately, because of their hunger for power.

We need to keep this in mind that if we believe in democracy than there should not be the notions like there will be only one ideology, one party in the country. There are also notions that all member of Jamayat-e-Islami are controversial. But they have some good leaders too and they have capabilities to contribute in the democracy too. Awami League, BNP and Jatiyo Party to some extent have achievements in their tenures. There are also some black marks in their deeds. The people have given mandates to the parties, which they thought could bring about a change in their lives. They are just pestered and fed up about the deeds of the oppositions (in all the tenures), which have crippled the parliament and led to more unrest hampering the economy. In every tenure the ruling party adopted repressions against opposition and putting their own persons in key positions so that they can come back into the power. Freedom of press and Judiciary system is still a far cry.

There has been much debate in the events of Hasina refusing to meet Khaleda (Khaleda intended to condole the deaths in the recent attacks personally). But political acrimony has deterred that when such a heinous attack to democracy should have been be tackled by unity and cooperation not by politicking and name-calling. A renowned lawyer Barrister Rokonuddin Mahmud has come up with a theory that Prime Minister Khaleda Zia should resign and all the parliament parties would elect an impartial prime minister on the basis of consensus and the parliament would basically rule the country. We need a well functional parliament full of good leaders with good intentions and restricting themselves from backbiting others to make this happen. This is not a bad idea but will never be implemented.


Post a Comment