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        Volume 11 |Issue 29| July 20, 2012 |


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Current Affairs

The New Game

Amid the growing fear of political turmoil ahead of the next parliamentary polls, many wonder whether the next elections will be held at all

Shakhawat Liton

Do you think Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's allegation of the BNP-led opposition hatching conspiracies to destroy democracy is justified? A whopping 88.50 percent people rejected the allegation in an online poll conducted by The Daily Star. Only 9.50 percent people believed the allegation was justified while two percent did not make any comment. A total of 357people cast their vote and the result was published on July 17. The Daily Star conducted the online poll after Sheikh Hasina alleged that the BNP-led opposition was hatching conspiracies to destroy democracy in the country in an apparent bid to foil the war crimes trial.

After cancellation of loan agreement by the World Bank to fund the Padma bridge project, people were asked another important question by Bengali daily Prothom Alo in its online poll. "Do you think the government will take actions against corrupt officials following the WB's action?" A whopping 91.85 percent people said no, expressing their doubt about the government. Only 7.65 percent people said yes. A total of 3,986 people cast vote in the poll.

Another online poll conducted by the daily this month says 91.61 percent people do not think the government will be able to keep the price of daily essentials stable during the month of Ramadan.

The game plan may take different turn this time and there may be even more political violence.

Online polls, although a limited number of people participated in it, demonstrate the glaring truth— people have little or no confidence in what our prime minister is saying and her government is doing in major issues. Such results may not catch the attention of the prime minister, her cabinet's colleagues, or her advisers. But it is very shocking and unfortunate for the people.

While addressing the national council of her party's youth wing Awami Jubo League in the capital on July 14, Sheikh Hasina said: “Democracy was hampered again and again, and we had to restore it by sacrificing blood. So, you have to remain alert so that no one can play with the fate of people and no one can play any new game.”

Such a call is not new. She has been doing it for a long time. The masses, who have been going through hard times for various reasons including the skyrocketing price of essentials, may not take the prime ministerial caution about the possible "new game". But a careful analysis of her call may find some significant substances and raise many questions. Is there really any possibility of a "new game"? If so, what could be the possible new game? And who are the players of the game?

The way the political situation is developing centring the next parliamentary polls after the cancellation of the caretaker government last year by the current government, it is almost clear that politics will take a volatile turn in the coming days. BNP-led opposition parties have already announced that they would not join the next parliamentary polls if a non-partisan government was not installed to oversee the polls. On the other hand, it seems the ruling Awami League is determined to remain in office during the next polls. What happens if the BNP led opposition parties do not join the polls? There is speculation in the political arena that the AL-led government will go for polls without the participation of BNP-led 18 parties' combine. In that case, Jatiya Party, a key component of the AL-led alliance, may be asked to contest the polls alone, through which it will appear as the main opposition in Parliament. And its chief HM Ershad will be the leader of the opposition in the parliament. Even some leaders of BNP-led alliance may be managed to contest the next polls. This could be the ruling alliance's plan, which many political analysts predict the AL may try to implement.

One may remember the uncertainty over BNP's participation in the December 29 of 2008 parliamentary polls. Under such situation, according to a diplomatic cable of the US Embassy in Dhaka leaked by WikiLeaks last year, AL chief Sheikh Hasina had asked Jatiya Party chief HM Ershad to contest the 2008 polls alone. The plan at that time could not be used as the BNP joined the polls.

At the end of 2006, the BNP-led alliance could not proceed with its plan. There was a so-called caretaker government in office. But this time, the AL-led government will remain in office and it may desperately try to hold the polls without the participation of the BNP-led alliance. So, the game plan may take different turn this time and there may be even more political violence. Amid the growing fear of political turmoil ahead of the next parliamentary polls, many people fear whether they will be held at all.

During a volatile political situation, undemocratic and unconstitutional forces always try to take advantage of the situation. Such forces might have started working to materialise their plan as the gap between the AL and BNP is growing and the situation may deteriorate further in the run up to the elections. If it happens, the undemocratic forces will have more opportunities to go ahead with their plan.

Now, all depends on the ruling AL and the main opposition BNP whether they will let the situation deteriorate further or bridge the gap between them through discussion. Their political will can save the country from a possible disaster looming large in our political horizon. The ruling AL must come up with an open mind to negotiate with the BNP.

Only urging people not to allow anybody to play a “new game” may not work. Everyone should keep in mind that people never like those who try to play with their fate and their democratic right. They did not like it in the past and will not tolerate it in the future.


The writer is Senior Reporter, The Daily Star.

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