IF one were to believe in the forecast of some Awami League leaders then there might not be any existence of the BNP after Eid. One wonders why Eid has been chosen as the datum point, first by the BNP and then by the AL, for some political deluge to submerge us.
Well the BNP has threatened to start political agitation including hartal, after a month of Siam and Qiam, after having cleansed both the soul and the body. But what will be their strategy to force the government to talks no one knows as yet. Perhaps it is waiting for the AL to commit further blunders or perhaps hoping for certain developments in the nature of Narayanganj, Phulgazi or the Bihari camp to occur, which, it hopes, would subsume the ruling party in the morass even more. To put it in the parlance, it is waiting for the AL to 'rot' a bit more. However, while its demand for fresh dialogue has been summarily dismissed by some AL leaders, nothing has come from the PM though. But the president seemed to have acted as an AL party spokesperson while articulating his views on dialogue and next election to the UN Secretary General.
Whether AL 'rot' will come about is anybody's guess, but that the deposition of the former half colonel who seemed have made the most of his army uniform and his political link while serving in Rab, and about whom new stories are emerging from time to time, and the statement of the main accused, whose power to acquire invisibility by which he managed to escape the notice of even those who were supposed to have kept him under close watch after the gruesome Narayanganj murder, was, unfortunately for him, dissipated by some cosmic intervention leading to his arrest by the Paschimbanga Police, may open a Pandora's box once their statements become public. His statement that he is in India on the advice of his mentor will be a cause of public embarrassment for the ruling party. But the AL has become so absolutely inured to embarrassing developments that these are likely to be dismissed as “these things happen.” However, one is not sure if the BNP is capable of exploiting these situations to its political advantage.
UN Secretary General's remarks that there should be further dialogue with parties outside the parliament for holding an inclusive and participatory elections, and the EU's renewed interest in dialogue, suggest that the international community is still concerned about the January 5 elections as well as the state of democracy in the country and the political issues that have kept the country on the hook for the last two years. The US has not budged either on its position on dialogue and an inclusive election. And this may be used as a pressure tool by the US on bilateral issues particularly renewing GSP facilities in the future.
Notwithstanding the High Court ruling on the legality of the 5 January elections, the government is still on very wobbly moral grounds in this regard. The government's apparent success in its diplomatic forays with our friends in the Near and South East Asia suggest a shift compelled by the need to reduce dependence on the West whose terms and condition for economic assistance is perhaps more stringent and predicated on the country's politics and governance, something that our friends in the East are not too much particular about.
AL may feel smug that there has been no adverse public reaction to the present state of affairs where we have a parliament that is virtually one-sided (at least we can take pleasure and pride that the unique character of the parliament has added a new definition of the term 'parliamentary opposition' in the lexicon of political science), where the civil society is not only divided, a part of it remains constantly under threat for attempting to speak out, and another part feels no qualms in keeping silent and letting things drift, where the media is wary because of a government that has become so innately anti-criticism that even fair criticisms become victims of self-censorship.
We hear the argument that peace, being an important precondition for progress, is preferable to the kind of politics and democracy the practice of which has been destructive and injurious to the country, at least of the kind one saw last year. That is a distorted argument reminiscent of dictators' rationale for autocratic rule. We want peace but not a deviant situation as obtaining today.
The writer is Editor, Op-ed and Defence & Strategic Affairs, The Daily Star.