Warmer politics expected in Bangladesh after Eid festival

DHAKA – Bangladesh politics is likely to get warmer by September after the Eid-ul-fitr, the greatest festival in the Muslim majority country.

As the opposition is planning for tougher political campaign, the government is trying to get the house in order amidst wide charges of corruption allegations, and the task of pursuing the war crime trial mainly targeting opposition Jamaat-e-Islami .

The election commission is also planning series of dialogue with the political parties, civil society and the media about the next election process, demarcation of constituencies and updating the voter’s list.

Meanwhile, preparations are going on to launch a new political alliance, a third force, apart from ruling Awami League and the BNP-led opposition .

BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia on Sunday said her party-led 18-part alliance will launch a vigorous movement after Eid to restore democracy and save people from repression and corruption.

“The 18-party alliance will wage an irresistible joint movement after Eid to restore democracy and save people from the misrule. We’ll succeed in our fight to save people as in the past. So, every party will have to take its own preparation,” she said in an Iftar party hosted by the alliance partner Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) at a city hotel.

The BNP chief said the government will be forced through the strong movement to reinstate the caretaker government system that was scrapped by the ruling party through amending the constitution with brute majority in the parliament.

She also urged the leaders and activists of the 18-party alliance to remain united to realize their demand and fight against the government’s all-pervasive corruption.

Dismissing the Prime Minister’s remarks in London over the next general election, the main opposition BNP on Saturday renewed its threat that the movement for restoration of the caretaker government system will get a new dimension after Eid.

“The Prime Minister’s remarks on the next polls and the ground reality do not match,” BNP acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir told the newsmen. Fakhrul said his party does not want any political violence and conflict, but the government is deliberately trying to create a confrontational situation. “They (gov’t) are trying to hold the polls under a party government without understanding the national pulse.”

“We want to tell the government that , there is still time to restore the caretaker system in the Constitution, or else, the movement will get a new dimension after Eid, and it will get tougher every day,” the BNP spokesman said.

Fakhrul further explained that the activities of the government over the last three and a half years that democracy clearely manifests that democracy was not safe in the hand of the present regime. “So, no election can be held in a free and fair manner sans caretaker government in place.”

Reiterating his party’s stance on the election, he said BNP will not participate in any polls under a party government and will foil such move of the government together with people.

What’s new!

What the opposition programme would look like? Last year, in a similar situation, the main opposition BNP declare a series of protest programmes including hartal after Eid-ul-Fitr demanding restoration of the caretaker government provision in the country’s constitution.

Programmes like long march, rallies at district level and human chains were finalized after consultation with the allies and like-minded parties. BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia went on a nationwide visit to mobilise public support for her party’s movement.

Since the situation has changed from last year, BNP is preparing the party units and front organisations to wage a thougher programme this time.

“Definitely we will have to consider the strength and stamina of party people and take into consideration about the economic impact of a political programe” a BNP standing committee leader said adding that whatever they plan it must be within the democratic limitations.

He also pointed out some practical issues like extra troubles in facing huge cases lodged politically against party leaders and active workers, the natural environment of rains and storms during September and October, and the next Eid-ul Azha and Puja festival. Actually, the thrust will be there after seventh of November, the revolution and solidarity day for BNP, said a party leader.

However, in the mean time, BNP may plan tour programme of party chairperson to mobilise public support and activate the political workers in different regions of the country , said a BNP vice-president.

New alliance after Eid

Meanwhile, a new alliance cobbling together some 13 political parties is likely to be floated after Eid with an avowed objective of freeing the nation from “corruption and misrule”

According to the enthusiastic party leaders the new alliance would strive to emerge as the “third force” to salvage the people.

They observe that unrest, panic and uncertainty caused by the confrontational politics of two major political parties- the ruling Awami League and the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) has gripped the nation.

According to sources, the new alliance will include Bikalpa Dhara Bangladesh led by former President of the country Professor Badruddoza Chowdhury, Gano Forum of Dr Kamal Hossain, Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal of ASM Abdur Rob, Krishak Sramik Janata League of veteran freedom fighter bangabeer Kader Siddiqui and nine other parties.

”We are trying to form a new alliance to free the nation from corruption, misdeeds and misrule. We have already started discussing the issue among ourselves. And we are hopeful that after the Eid we will be able to form the alliance,” JSD president ASM Abdur Rob told the press.

However, he said the decision to form a separate alliance has not yet been finalised.

Bangabir Kader Siddiqui said “considering the latest developments in the country’s political arena, we the like-minded political parties are now discussing how and in what way we can save the nation”, Bangabir said.

”We are thinking that we will sit together after the Eid to complete the formation of our alliance. And we will also formulate strategy for the next course of action,” he mentioned.

Bikalpa Dhara Bangladesh secretary- general major (retd) Abdul Mannan said they are neither right nor left but want to remain beside the common people.

Discussion on formation of an alliance was going on in full swing and they would finalize decision regarding the new alliance after Eid, he said.

EC dialogue with civil society after Eid

As the situation appears to be suitable enough, the Election Commission (EC) is planning to hold dialogue with the political parties, civil society and the mass media after Eid-ul-Fitr on redrawing boundaries of 300 parliamentary constituencies on the basis of the latest census.

“The EC will discuss first with the civil society and mass media and finally with the political parties on redrawing boundaries of 300 parliamentary constituencies on the basis of the latest census”, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Quazi Raqibuddin Ahmad said at a press conference at the EC secretariat on Sunday.

“We have adequate time to determine the area of the constituency before the 10th Jatiya Sangsad election, the CEC said, adding that we are proceeding fast and it is being expected that we will finish the work within the scheduled time.”

The EC is updating the voter’s list and the the final voter list would be published in next January.

The commission intends to achieve confidence from all the people through conducting all free fair and transparent elections, the CEC added.

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