Democracy is not practised within the political parties of Bangladesh but the way to change this non-democratic culture remains unknown, advisers of two major political parties of the country and a senior leader of a third observed yesterday.
Gowher Rizvi, international affairs adviser to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, pointed out how factionalisation takes place within a party during the grassroots level elections, with the defeated group refusing to accept the results.
"It is for that reason elections are often suspended, delayed and the ball is passed back to the central authority to make the decision," he told the launch of "Political Parties in Bangladesh: Challenges of Democratization", a book written by eminent political scientist Rounaq Jahan.
"A powerful election commission and a neutral civil service are required to make political parties comply with the RPO [Representation of the People Order]," said Inam Ahmed Choudhury, adviser to BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia, at the programme held at Bengal Shilpalay in the capital.
"I have not seen any political party in the country with credible commitment to democratising itself," said GM Quader, presidium member of Jatiya Party, adding that democratisation within political parties remained far-fetched.
In her book, published by Prothoma Prokashan, Rounaq Jahan analysed the four major political parties of the country -- Awami League, BNP, Jamaat-e-Islami and Jatiya Party -- in six chapters covering a period of 43 years from 1972 to present, said Prof Al Masud Hasanuzzaman of Jahangirnagar University, presenting an overview of the book.
International affairs analyst Prof Imtiaz Ahmed said, "Why would political parties leave violence or democratise themselves when misgovernance is profitable? "He suggested developing a social charter with seven points, one of them necessitating a referendum for every major decision that a ruling party, even with a two-thirds majority, can take.
Rounaq, however, said making more laws might not be a solution. "The party that wins a majority goes to power and starts breaking the law for their own benefits and to punish the opposition," she said. "Misgovernance is profitable only for those in power," she added.
Moderating the programme, Matiur Rahman, editor of the Prothom Alo, mentioned the dearth of literature providing in-depth analysis of the country's political parties and their characteristics and hoped that the book would initiate further discussions and research.