Return to parliament now
For sometime past, opposition BNP has made its intent public to end its boycott of parliament without specifying a date but making it sound as if it could be any day, just to perhaps lend a dramatic aura around an otherwise long-defaulted return to parliament. When the first affirmative intent was indicated by the party we greeted it wholeheartedly but with a caveat that it should not end up being an effort to circumvent the 90-day absence clause designed entirely to avert loss of membership in parliament. But the fact is not lost on anybody that by keeping out of parliament so long the BNP has landed itself in a loser's position when it had to make up its mind to join parliament or be further overtaken by the speed of events.
In her welcome interactive meeting with editors and senior journalists of electronic and print media on Monday opposition leader Begum Khaleda Zia indicated that she would go back to parliament to stay in and not go on a boycott mode. One discerns a certain realisation on her part that the party's standing with the people might suffer further if she keeps missing out on fast developing issues that she must attend to as legitimate concerns of a national leader. As usual though, she says she keeps both options open to stay in parliament and hit the street as well.
There is a certain thing, however, that we cannot help point out: in the question-answer session she tried to explain away her allegation of the government 'signing a secret deal' with India based on a newspaper story of unnamed source. As two-time prime minister and leader of the opposition how could she make such an unsubstantiated and improper remark given the importance of Bangladesh's relationship with India. Such a statement sounded mischievous and irresponsible hardly behooving her stature.
We would like to tell her, come what may, please don't quit the parliament, even in the form of walkouts for the nation long denied of your legitimate role in parliament wants you to participate wholeheartedly in the parliamentary proceedings. Make your presence felt beyond your numerical strength through the sheer force of your argument, debating skill and quality of your inputs. Parliament must be a vibrant national forum for deliberation on national issues and setting directions instead of being a forum for exchange of abusive language, indulgence in blame game and recapitulation of past misdeeds that have no relevance to the contemporary political and economic landscapes. Of course, we would urge the ruling party to err on the side of caution insofar as making remarks on opposition leaders goes. These have unfortunately been unparliamentary and abusive on occasions to which Begum Zia alluded on Monday in her meeting with the editors.
The ruling party with its electoral mandate should be only generously setting an example of parliamentary etiquette and with the opposition reciprocating take the parliamentary debates to a certain constructive level.