Bangladesh General Election: Winners must not take all, say Juktofront
12:00 AM, October 09, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:18 PM, October 25, 2018

Winners must not take all: Juktofront

Discusses the issue, other proposals with BNP

Juktofront, a platform of three political parties that played a crucial role in forging “greater national unity”, wants a sweeping change in the current winner-take- all system in politics.

It wants to offer the opposition parties some crucial posts like the ones of deputy prime minister, deputy speaker and at least half of the heads of parliamentary bodies, empowering them with effective roles in cabinet and parliament, according to proposals drafted by the platform.

The proposals would be finalised in consultation with leaders of the BNP, an important component of the “greater national unity”. And those would be turned into electoral pledges of the platform in the upcoming parliamentary election, sources at the platform said.

The platform may be named as “Jatiya Juktofront” as decided in principle by senior leaders of BNP, Juktofront and Gonoforum-led by Dr Kamal Hossain at a meeting on Sunday night.

If voted to power in next election, Juktofront leaders said, they would bring major amendments to the constitution to implement those proposals to ensure effective “check and balance” in state power.

"We have to go ahead with these proposals to build a democratic country," Mahmudur Rahman Manna, spokesperson for Juktofront, told The Daily Star yesterday.

Manna, also convenor of Nagorik Oikya, said a functional democracy is not possible if those rational proposals are not honoured.

Asked Moudud Ahmed, a standing committee member of BNP, said his party itself has some plans regarding the “check and balance” in power. 

"We will sit to discuss the issues to take it forward," he told The Daily Star yesterday.

In the current winner-take-all system, the ruling party grabs everything and the opposition does not have any say and therefore no party wants to sit in the opposition bench, according to political analysts.

The proposals drafted by the Juktofront also seek to free MPs from stringent restriction imposed on them by article 70 of the constitution which according to the platform damages the check and balance.

According to the proposal, MPs will be free in casting their votes in the House on any issues, except on no-confidence motions and finance bills [passage of budget]. 

Currently, MPs are not allowed to cast votes against party decision and a member of parliament loses his/her membership for defying the decision.

According to the proposals, the ruling party will no more have absolute control over the chairman post of the parliamentary standing committees. Chairs of some important standing committees like the ones on home, information, finance, foreign, health and education ministries will be given to other parties not belonging to the treasury bench.

MPs will not be allowed to carry out development activities in their constituencies. Instead, the proposals say, the local government bodies will be empowered to do the jobs. In addition, city governments led by mayors will be introduced in the city areas. The local government bodies will be given adequate budgetary allocation, say the proposals.

One of the proposals speaks for complete separation of the judiciary from the executive saying the lower judiciary is still under control of the government.

In the proposals, the Juktofront supports setting up an independent commission for making appointments to the Supreme Court and to all other constitutional posts. A law will also be enacted to this regard.

Moreover, it speaks for introduction of a parliamentary hearing system for making appointments to all constitutional posts. The hearing will be held after the independent commission makes a nomination for an appointment.

One of the proposals advocates for bringing balance between the power of the president and the prime minister. It, however, does not explain how it will be possible. The proposal says none will hold the prime minister's office more than twice and the prime minister cannot hold any party post.

The other proposals include scrapping the Special Powers Act of 1974 and bringing amendments to the controversial provisions of the Digital Security Act, an end to extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances, and torture by police in custody.  

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