Neither party is upholding the spirit of the Liberation War
The Awami League and BNP are making a great deal of noise about controlling the streets, but they are unaware of the historical fact that the streets belong to the working class and they are the ones who will decide the future of the country.
It is a tragedy for our country that politics has now been trapped within the two poles of these two parties. Both groups have looted our country, strangled democracy, and worked as servants of forces inimical to the values of our Liberation War. They are both complacent to imperialist and hegemonic forces. And because these forces have been in power, the rulers have changed but there has been no organic change in people's fates. The infighting that is going on right now about the sharing of the loot has to be transformed into the fight of the oppressed against the oppressors – that is what I think should be our primary goal.
The current government has devalued democracy, individual rights, and the right to free speech just to consolidate power. It has even taken away the people's right to vote. BNP tried to do this too and succeeded once or twice, but could not get away with it because it lost in the political competition. We are now witnessing a repetition of that competition. However, BNP should not be oppressed by the ruling party, even though we disagree with its ideology. Whoever is in power, they should never oppress the opposition party – We said this when BNP was in power too.
In order to make the next election free, fair and participatory, the election system should be thoroughly reformed, including introducing a proportional representation system. We have been carrying out a movement on this for a long time. What is paramount now is creating a conducive atmosphere for the upcoming national elections to take place. We all know that elections are never fair under a partisan government. The AL and BNP both know it. If they bargain, collude and decide upon how many seats to take each, we will not be a part of that.
We strongly condemn the attacks on BNP and the killing of a BNP activist, and the arrest of top BNP leaders. We also condemn the attempts by the government to foil BNP's divisional rallies. We have foundational contradictions with BNP, but even if we ever run the government, we would never repress the party. Instead, we would take their opinion into account to run the country. We fought the Liberation War for that – for our right to vote during Ayub Khan's rule. We fought for the same rights during Ershad's rule and we are having to fight for the same rights now.
Our people did not give their blood for this – they gave their blood for a socialist economy. They fought for democracy, secularism and to give our nation a sovereign dignity following non-alignment. And we will continue that fight. That is where our contradiction lies with AL and BNP, who are acting against the spirit of the Liberation War. AL gives lip service to this spirit, but in reality they are not following it. They have enacted a market economy instead of a socialist economy. They have appeased Hefazat-e-Islam. They are giving shelter to looters and money launderers. People will stand against this misrule.
Although AL is in power for the third time in a row now, it is currently in power through questionable elections. They appear to be afraid to face the people. That is why they are striking hard at dissenting forces. They are forcibly holding on to power. People have not forgotten that BNP has done the same before.
BNP has not been able to provide any organic solutions to the problems of the people. They are proposing a market economy. They will increase facilities for businesspeople. They say they will control the price of commodities but they have no plan as to how they will do it. We have had this since the Liberation War. We are not saying anything new. AL has moved away from the economic, social and political philosophy of the Liberation War and is now prescribing the same policies as others.
If we talk about the immediate future, the competition for power will continue and there may be more bloodshed, until people come behind a leftist alternative to both AL and BNP and bring them to power.
Mujahidul Islam Selim is former president of the Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB).