Awami League as a Political Party
It’s a party that bears the spirit of liberation war and secular institutions, a party that considers Bengali culture as the guiding element, supports the campaign for’71 war criminals’ trail and works towards bringing about change in the faulty system. Inspired by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s struggle for independence, the party considers BNP pro-Pakistan or a party with loose cultural-ideological features that do not reflect the wishes of an independent progressive Bangladesh.
BNP as a Political Party
It takes its inspiration from President Ziaur Rahman’s policies in the post ’75 political scenario. A pro-Islamist party, it believes that religion should be the basis of nationalism, sides with war criminals and the killers of Bangabandhu and other national leaders, and considers that the killing of the Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was an army rebel operation backed by pro-Pakistan and leftist forces. BNP claims that Ziaur Rahman, as an army Major, had announced the declaration of Independence, and hence refuses to accept Bangabandhu as the Father of the Nation. It labels Awami League a pro-India party which seems quite unjustified in the sense that Awami League, as government power, have had the most fierce rows with Indian governments. But, ‘pro-India’ is somehow a stigma in the political conscience of Bangladesh.
BNP & Awami League: Similarities when in Power
a) Politicize civil and military administrations
b) Support the illegal activities of their student wings
c) Radically change names of organizations
d) Party workers go on the rampage of extortion, tender terrorism and human rights violations
e) Buy tax-free cars for their solvent members of parliament
f) MPs and Ministers purchase land through proxy means
g) Provide immunity to their cadres to grab plots and riverine areas
h) Want to rule Bangladesh for the rest of the country’s life
BNP & Awami League: Similarities when in Opposition
a) Boycott National Assembly sessions but take salaries without performing and/or delivering
b) Claim conspiracies against the pro-India / pro-Pakistan tendencies of the party in power
c) Look for an excuse to incite movements for change of government
d) Their non-co-operation in National Assembly and their wrath towards the government are not appeased till they win back power
Hence, the row between the government and the opposition remains repetitive and as time-wasting as Samuel Beckett’s stagnant stage of Waiting for Godot. Nothing changes. People don’t get security or health service from the state; education fails to accommodate a wider generation and police continues to humiliate civil citizens. No political party works towards establishing social welfare services in rural areas to discourage urban migration. Election success offers only the mandate to rule, not serve. Political mudslinging doesn’t abate and this wrestling is ceaselessly aired by our electronic media.
People who survive on hand- to-mouth incomes and those who work hard and are capable of entrepreneurship get zero support from the government. They are, on top of this, harassed and hindered by the prevalent political culture.
So unless Awami League and BNP start making and talking sense, curb the tendency of political coquetry and stop issuing misplaced rhetoric, nothing will ever change.
Ignoring education as the accelerator of the country has already impeded the growth of skilled workers, while nepotism & political favoritism in the employment process has weakened talent hunting.
In the absence of a genuine opposition party in the parliament, media in Bangladesh has taken on the role of a shadow government on behalf of the people. Interestingly, the very political leaders who fail to deliver show no qualms in enjoying media publicity. Access to information and social networking sites on the internet have played a key part in making the people of Bangladesh more politically aware and critical than ever before.
The voters, as well as the non-voters, expect the Awami League-led government to ensure affordable food, sound law & order, education without political violence and a society based on secular values. People naturally understand Awami League’s desire to carry out trials of war criminals, provided other mandated issues are pursued with equal passion. (In Germany even casting doubt on the Holocaust is a crime.)
As for BNP, it will have to take lessons in democratic practices. For starters: judicious handling of the whirl castle corruption scandal and taking steps to clear up its image of being pro-fundamentalism. Regional foreign policy needs to be reassessed. Anti-India or anti-Pakistan propaganda has started to sound boring, if nothing else. In an age of information super highway, political rumors or yellow comments don’t sell like before. BNP should rethink its manifesto and plan a constructive political campaign.
While Awami League should not appear arrogant, over confident or vindictive, BNP should not look conspiratory or destructive. Leaders must understand the meaning of ‘change’ before they use it so casually. We still carry hope that these parties and their leaders will respond to a changed info-socio-political reality and say ‘YES’ to good politics only.