THE BNP’S WAIT MUST CONTINUE
According to Khaleda Zia the country is now without an elected government. Her latest observation came on Wednesday at a 20-party alliance rally she addressed at Kishoreganj as part of her effort to prepare the ground for a new round of anti-government protests aimed at forcing the authorities to declare the date for a new general election in an environment in which BNP and other opposition parties can take part. What she told the rally came as no surprise. Since her failure to stop the January 5 election which she boycotted the BNP leader has been repeating the statement time and again. Few in any position to address her concern, however, are listening to her.
By now, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s current government has been recognized as a valid and legitimate government to deal with at home and abroad even though the balloting failed to meet the democratic aspirations of the nation. Participation of all the political parties, including Bangladesh Nationalist Party of Khaleda, would have made the election inclusive and competitive. But BNP’s boycott did not render the voting illegitimate. Almost every sections of the society except Khaleda’s party and alliance has recognized this reality and accepted the new government.
At home business people are making sense of the political calm that has prevailed since the January election. The absence of political violence may prove short-lived but that the political peace exists is good news for Bangladesh. The series of hartals (general strikes) called by Jamaat-e-Islami to protest the death verdicts pronounced against Matiur Rahman Nizami and Mohammad Kamaruzzaman should be seen as a bubble. The hartals have affected the JSC and JDC examinees to some extent but the protests have failed to break the morale of the students. The unjustified disruptions have rather steeled the determination of the students who are being strongly supported by their guardians and the government.
The bottom line here is that the people want political peace and stability more than anything else. Protests like hartals have lost its appeal and sharpness as people have found that such protests at best can create chaos.
Hasina’s new government is doing quite well with the foreign governments. Japan, the economic giant of Asia, became the first country to host Sheikh Hasina for her first foreign trip after being elected prime minister for the second consecutive term. The Japan tour confirmed the warm relationship between Dhaka and Tokyo. The Japanese government led by Prime Minister Shinzu Abe went beyond the usual protocol to offer massive investment in Bangladesh, especially in energy and infrastructure, the priority of Hasina’s government.
Hasina’s Japan tour was followed by an equally important visit to China, which has long been a development partner of Bangladesh. Since then Hasina has been to the Britain, the United States to attend the UN General Assembly Session, Italy, UAE. She will undertake more foreign trips, including her participation in the SAARC Summit in Nepal and an all-important tour of Malaysia.
Who is then questioning the legitimacy of Hasina’s government? Only Khaleda Zia. Unfortunately for her she is getting little backing in her position.
This does not, however, mean that the Jan.5 election has been an ideal democratic exercise. Even Sheikh Hasina has said that the election had to be held to present an unconstitutional force to grab power and to continue the process of democratization. In saying so, Hasina has recognized that she would have been too happy to have BNP as a rival in the election battle. Her offer to BNP to join the all-party administration to oversee the election was also turned down by Khaleda.
Then what was in the mind of Khaleda? If she had expected a mass upsurge against Hasina’s government or if she expected another force to come to her aid she has definitely proved wrong.
Khaleda can overcome her frustration by rebuilding the party and boosting the morale of the workers and leaders. And she will have to wait until the next election comes on her way.
NOVEMBER 13, 2014