Awami League (AL) supporters celebrate after election results have been opened unofficially. Grand alliance led by AL acquires two third majority while other parties and alliances have obtained only few seats. by: A H Arif, DRIK News
Decades ago, Sylhet municipality (before it became a city corporation) had an admittedly crazy candidate for the position of chairman: A Mr. Saiful. The whole town knew he had mental problems, and he openly discussed it. His campaigning was novel, too: he declared, in open meetings, that he was going to take a total of one crore (10 million) taka in bribes, after which he will do real work.
Would you be surprised to hear that Mr. Saiful, a crazy person with a declared manifesto of taking bribes, defeated major party (AL, BNP, JP) candidates and was elected? The heavily favored AL candidate and the challenger BNP candidate both lost despite rigging the vote in many polling centers.
People were so disgusted, they voted Saiful (also known as Chokka Saiful) as the Chairman.
People have power to vote, and they wield that power thoughtfully. A cartoon published on Nov 5, 2008, after Obama was elected says “the most powerful person in the free world is a voter”. We thought this would be appropriate for Bangladesh as well.
We saw this in 1991–pundits were predicting an AL win, but people remembered that AL formed an alliance with Jatyo Party/Ershad and punished them by voting for BNP. BNP went to power and abused it, so people voted for AL in 1996.
You’d think AL would learn by then. They conducted business as usual, and was kicked out of power in the 2001 election. Which brings us to 2008, and the massive boot given to BNP by the voters in Bangladesh.
Awami League leadership and specially Sheikh Hasina will do well to remember this history. A landslide victory does not mean a license to mess with the constitution or the civil rights of people. It does not mean an unrestricted license to steal for the petty thugs in the party (or the big thugs in the party). It does not mean a massive revenge campaign against BNP rank and file members. Above all, it does not mean the laws of the country won’t apply to Awami Leaguers any more.
May AL and Sheikh Hasina find the wisdom to govern wisely.
J @ Shada Kalo [http://shadakalo.blogspot.com] writes using a pseudonym and is best known for exposing government, military, corporate foul plays through whistle-blowing investigative reports.