A Detriment to Democracy
There is little to be hopeful about following the two rallies held by the ruling Awami League and the BNP in Dhaka. Although rallies are not typically where political compromises/concessions are announced, we still expected some hint of a way forward from the present deadlock. Wednesday's events unfolded under the shadow of visits by the European Union's election exploratory mission and a changed political dynamic in the wake of the recent US visa policy. While both AL and BNP appeared to allude or respond to these influences, both claiming to enjoy the support of the public, the question is: Do the methods they advocate to achieve the objective of a free and fair election best serve the public?
In a way, the two rallies, held about a kilometre apart but thankfully timed differently, mirrored each other. While the BNP used its event as a launching pad for its one-point movement for the government's resignation in favour of an election under a non-party interim administration, the AL used its rally to post a resounding response: that there will be no entertaining of such demands. While both stress the importance of free and fair polls, thus giving them a common ground, neither signalled readiness to advance this cause through peaceful means, with the latter even ruling out the possibility of dialogue. If their lack of flexibility on this issue persists, we cannot help but be worried about the future.
We must say, however, that as the party in power, for three consecutive terms no less, it is the AL that holds the primary responsibility for leading us out of the stalemate. Even if a solution to the bone of their contention is not imminently expected, the party can at least ensure that it doesn't escalate tensions by countering every public event of the BNP with one of its own. This as well as other obstructive activities by police and ruling party men have led to unnecessary violence and sufferings in the past. Anything that hinders constructive political discourse and cooperation must be avoided, and that goes for other political parties as well.
As things stand now, it is crucial that all parties see the value of dialogue and compromise instead of rigidly pursuing their agendas. In the spirit of democracy, they must work together to ensure elections that truly reflect the will of the people.