Lessons of Bhola
AS expected the result of the Bhola-3 by-election has been rejected by the BNP who has demanded cancellation of the same and has called for a fresh election. Also as expected, the AL, who carried the seat, has rejected BNP's demand, claiming that the election was held in a free and fair atmosphere.
The irony of elections in Bangladesh is that the loser inevitably rejects the outcome out of hand while the winner terms it as absolutely flawless. Paradoxically, with all the factors as they are, if the position of the AL and BNP were to be reversed, we are certain that the reactions would predictably be quite the opposite; we would hear from AL exactly what BNP is saying today and vice versa.
We wonder if ever we will be able to shun this typical attitude that marks the psyche of the political parties in our country. And one wonders too whether there will ever come a time when we will see elections in Bangladesh held without controversy, violence or negative fallout, and where the result would be accepted gracefully and defeat conceded without remonstrations.
It would not be an exaggeration to suggest that the actual issue is that the political parties are not really interested in the verdict of the people but only in the result they want to win at any cost. So it is inevitable that whatever measures the EC undertakes to conduct the poll, the result would be rejected by the loser.
Bhola -3 constituency was an AL seat that fell vacant when the High Court declared the incumbent's candidature invalid. Traditionally, it is the ruling party that has taken the vacant seat in the by-elections in most cases. The reason why voters' preference has gone in favour of the ruling party is because they have felt that it would benefit them to have a ruling party MP in terms of developments and allotment of resources rather than an opposition MP. Statistics show that since 1991 the opposition has won but only 20 percent of the by-elections. All these factors made an AL win in the Bhola-3 by-polls more likely than not. And given the intra-party wrangle of the BNP, and also the candidate's credential as a party reformist, his loss comes as perhaps no surprise.
However, the ruling party's attitude, of win at all cost, predisposed them towards bellicosity that has clouded the results. Undoubtedly, the atmosphere in the constituency was far from ideal, and the situation was vitiated by clashes, which has marred the election, and for which the AL must also take the blame.
It is regrettable that the culture of politics makes holding of election in our country rather difficult. We would hope that elections in the future would not turn into a slanging match.