President Zillur Rahman yesterday said the main opposition BNP had failed to discharge its constitutional and democratic obligation by refraining from regularly participating in parliament over the last four years. 2
"If the main opposition considered themselves as people's representatives and servants, then it was its obligation to discharge its responsibilities by joining parliament and expressing views through constructive discussions in and outside parliament," he said.
The president was addressing the opening sitting of the New Year session of the House amid boycott by the BNP-led opposition MPs.
Like yesterday, the opposition lawmakers, belonging to BNP, Jamaat-e-Islami and Bangladesh Jatiya Party, were not present when he addressed the Jatiya Sangsad in the last three New Year sessions.
They have already boycotted 283 of total 337 sittings of this parliament in the last four years, setting a new record in the House boycott culture of Bangladesh.
Experts say the culture of prolonged boycott has been crippling the parliamentary system since its restoration in 1991 and increasing the confrontational culture in politics.
The Awami League while in the opposition bench also boycotted the proceedings of fifth [1991-1996] and eighth parliament [2001-2006].
The BNP, too, while in opposition boycotted many sittings of the seventh parliament [1996-2001].
The president in his address yesterday said keeping alive political conflict by clinging to any particular position or refraining from carrying out responsibilities bestowed by the people through the adoption of a rigid stance on parliament boycott does not conform to democratic behaviour.
"I therefore once again urge the opposition in this final year of the present parliament and government to please shun the path of igniting fire, violence and anarchy. Please place all your complaints, proposals, recommendations and opinions in parliament and help democracy flourish."
Citing his efforts to constitute the present Election Commission through holding talks with the political parties, the president said this was the first time in Bangladesh that an independent, neutral and powerful EC has been constituted by pursuing the process of dialogue.
"I am firmly optimistic that we shall be able to present a free, neutral and credible parliamentary election in future under the pragmatic leadership of the present Election Commission and through our combined efforts."
In his 148-page address, the president described in detail the current government's various measures and successes in different sectors. However, he did not say if there was any failure on the part of the government.
"The present government has taken all out initiatives to ensure transparency and accountability, open and tolerant conduct, respect toward human rights and rule of law and governance through discussions with all stakeholders," he said.
Zillur Rahman, the head of state, took only 10 minutes to speak about some key features of his written address, which was earlier approved by the cabinet, and the rest was considered as read out.
About the rule of BNP-Jamaat-led alliance, the president said the alliance government had started politics of vengeance immediately after assuming office in 2001 and continued this trend up to 2006. But the history of the world has repeatedly proved that the politics of terrorism and hatred cannot bring benefits for the society and the economy, he said.
"The destructive politics of BNP-Jamaat government had given rise to Bhaban-centric, anti-people activitiesâ€¦ but the hardworking people-peasants-labourers, men, women and youths of this country did not tolerate this aberration and waywardness. They, therefore, created another history through the Jatiya Sangsad elections of December 2008," the president said.
"We should take lessons from the past."