Stop playing lose-lose game
THE former military dictator Ershad has dared the ruling Awami League the opposition BNP together to prove their popularity in a presidential election. Since such an election is against the spirit of constitution, he has even suggested that such an election might take place under an amended constitution.
Where has he got the courage and inspiration?
Obviously from the glaring failure of our democracy and the parties that champion it.
Was Ershad talking through his hat when he issued such a challenge?
Not in the least. Clearly, the prevailing political situation, a handiwork of both the ruling and the opposition parties, have encouraged him to call his bluff.
The incident gives the lie to the fact that the mass people under the leadership of the present ruling Awami League and the opposition BNP did fight a long-drawn-out battle to bring down the nine years' dictatorial rule of this selfsame Ershad. And his downfall is still so enthusiastically celebrated as the victory of democracy!
Things appear to have come full circle.
This is but a very sad commentary on our democracy.
Whatever the merit of Ershad's challenge, the two major political camps should better take it seriously. What Ershad has said has a message for both the leaders.
Unbeknown to them, the war of attrition they have been waging against each other has reached a dead end.
And their failure have been read, and rightly so, as the failure of democracy by quarters inimical to democracy.
As a fallout of this never-ending war between the two dynastic claimants to state power with a democratic façade, the mass people have got totally frustrated about the present situation.
This is certainly not the kind of governance for which the common man struggled hard and spilled blood to overthrow military autocracy. Ask any average person in the street, if they see any difference in their lives during all these two decades plus years under democracy compared to the times before when they were under military dictatorship.
The same old bloody street skirmishes, the same practice of denying the opposition the space they are constitutionally granted and the reluctance to respect, far less listen, to the other's point of view.
Meanwhile, far from narrowing, gap between ruling party and the opposition is but widening with every passing moment. And with it, the prospect of reaching a common understanding between the two major political camps is getting ever bleaker.
It's not that the two major political actors in the fray are not aware of the consequence of their mindless intransigence. Pointing to each other's follies, either camp, from time to time, has been issuing warnings to its rival about the pitfalls of such an irrational stance with next general election near at hand. The recent encounters and resulting bloody street violence between the government and the opposition are a forewarning for what may come next.
Even so, neither is willing to relent. Oblivious that the danger may come from different other directions, they, like the fabled one-eyed doe, have been keeping watch on one side only.
Worse yet, they cannot realise that however much they may try. It is impossible to annihilate their rival political camp. They have not been able to achieve that impossible mission in the last twenty years! And if one look further back, the past military regimes, despite all their scheming, miserably failed to destroy either of these parties.
The same also holds true at the moment. Sooner they come to terms with the fact the better.
Friends both at home and abroad have been making repeated appeals to the government and the opposition to bury their differences.
The Canadian High Commissioner to Bangladesh, Heather Cruden, the other day urged the ruling party and the opposition to engage meaningfully with each other to resolve the ongoing political impasse towards ensuring a free, fair and transparent election.
Such appeals made by foreigners to our politicians have been coming in addition to the occasional pleadings from the businesspeople and members of the local civil society. But they are not only heedless, they also often dismiss such pleas coming from concerned quarters, whether from foreigners or from locals, as something unwanted and meddlesome. And as such, pseudo-patriotically, they prefer to give a damn about what others may say about their business.
With next general election drawing so close neither party can afford to continue with this the lose-lose confrontational game.
The writer is Editor Science & Life, The Daily Star.