Ruling Awami League and its political arch-rival BNP are getting prepared to stage a massive showdown tomorrow (January 5), the fourth anniversary of the last parliamentary election, in differing views.
Both the parties have called for rallies tomorrow.
Awami League will herald the day as “Victory Day for Democracy” and hold two separate central rallies at Banani field and Bangabandhu Avenue in Dhaka, apart from a “gala” celebration across its district, upazila and metropolitan headquarters.
The party’s General Secretary Obaidul Quader, in a statement issued yesterday, called to AL activists and supporters to observe the day in due fervour in the final year of the incumbent government.
BNP, on the other hand, will be observing the day as “Democracy Killing Day” and has announced plans to hold a central rally in Dhaka’s Suhrawardy Udyan.
The party’s Senior Joint Secretary General Ruhul Kabir Rizvi Ahmed has said BNP is yet to secure a police permission for the rally. “If we are denied permission in Suhrawardy Udyan, we want to hold the rally in front of our Naya Paltan office.”
The last parliamentary election was held on January 5, 2014, amid controversy as the BNP, main opposition in the immediate past parliament, and most other political parties boycotted the polls terming it “farcical and one-sided”. As a result, 154 lawmakers were elected uncontested in the 10th parliament.
In 2015, on the first anniversary of the day, the political situation of Bangladesh turned violent centering the rivalling rallies of both parties and remained turbulent for weeks.
Both sides were arrogant and intolerant then. The government refused to grant BNP the permission to hold its planned rally to observe January 5 as the "democracy killing day." The BNP responded by defying the police ban while police kept Khaleda confined to her Gulshan office by blocking the roads in front of her office with sand-loaded trucks. Her party men were given no scope either to take to the streets as police went tough on them. Only the ruling AL men were in the streets, celebrating the day as "Victory Day for Democracy".
An angry Khaleda called for a countrywide non-stop blockade from January 6 to topple the government. The political programme which went on until the last week of March turned violent.
At least 95 people were killed and about 1,500 injured in arson attacks on public transports. Most of them were ordinary citizens. Another 45 got killed in "shootouts" with law enforcement agencies. About half of them were allegedly involved in arson attacks. The economic loss from the blockade and shutdown was enormous.
Finally, the BNP failed to achieve its goal as the movement lost direction due to violence.
This year, however, BNP, it seems, is bent on participating in the elections. However, they want a non-partisan neutral administration to oversee the election.
Awami League, on the other hand, who with its overwhelming majority at the parliament amended the constitution and obliterated the provision of a caretaker government, is asserting that the election will be held under the administration of Sheikh Hasina.