BD politics and some major concerns
Bangladesh is progressing in terms of economic, social, scientific, international relations and other aspects. On its way to further progression at local, national, regional and international level, however, it has various political and non-political challenges. Political challenges are certainly important as these increase challenges to other aspects of progression. With varying degree, problems in politics exist in all countries. Even if some political problems are solved, new political problems arise. But major political problems in any country, if remain unresolved, is a matter of grave concern. In spite of the fact that Bangladesh has passed almost 47 years since its independence, it has several major concerns with politics -- unfair election, the culture of revenge taking politics, lower in-party democracy, etc -- that put considerable barriers to progression of the nation as per expectations.
There is no doubt that political problems have enormous short and long term negative impacts. Political problems adversely affect the very politics of the country particularly through putting barriers to its expected progression. Furthermore, such problems negatively affect other aspects including killings of many political and non-political individuals, destructions of private properties, destruction of business establishments and creation of other barriers to the progression of business, establishment of might-based or unjust social systems and politicization of various segments of the society. Due to some vital political problems, therefore, overall development of Bangladesh is considerably hindered. Here, I will provide a few comments on some major political concerns.
Election, particularly unfree and unfair election, is one of major political concerns in Bangladesh. Indeed, most general elections are not free and fair, although elections held in 1991 and 1996 are largely free and fair. Elections are manipulated in partisan manner mainly due to several reasons including the mentality of major political parties to stay in power by any means. There is no doubt that free and fair election alone can ensure transparency and accountability among political parties and leaders, lead to democratic progression, solve many other political problems, etc. By reason of lack of free and fair election, however, expected development of the constitutionalized democracy particularly in terms of participatory elections, free exercise of voting rights and fair transfer of political authority from one government to another are largely hindered.
Lack of in-party democracy is another major concern. With some variations, there is lack of in-party democracy in terms of major decisions of the party, nominations for elections, etc. among different political parties. Lack of freedom of voting on a bill in the parliament against the party position also needs to be specially mentioned here. According to the article 71 of the constitution of Bangladesh, no Member of the Parliament or MP of the ruling party can vote against the bill. If he/she votes, he/she will be denied party membership and the position of MP. This indicates not only an undemocratic process of passing a bill but also the possibility of passing unreasonable bills particularly from the perspective of interests of the people and the state. Surely, full freedom may put barriers to passing some important bills, but full compliance eventually establishes the culture of submissiveness of MPs, restricts in-party democracy and establishes the dictatorship within the party.
Nominations of inappropriate candidates for National, city corporation and other local government elections are a vital concern. Undeniably, appropriate candidates need to be nominated at national and local level for institutional integrity of democracy, quality or standard politics, etc. But there are wide criticisms that political parties, with some variations, nominate electoral candidates who are political cadres or musclemen, dishonest wealthy or dishonest businessmen, etc. As expected, voters are not given socially desired alternatives -- competent, honest and genuine leaders -- for choosing their representatives. Due to choices and elections of muscle power and ill-gotten money over quality, other problems including armed politics, political conflicts, abuse of power and weakening of the rule of law continue.
Political culture of intolerance is another vital concern. Indeed, political parties and leaders are less tolerant to differing views and parties due to many reasons including extreme position at one's political views, despite the fact that toleration is an important aspect of multi-party or democratic politics. More importantly, considerable absence of political tolerance often leads to suppression of opposition voices, bringing out praiseworthy achievements of other parties into disrepute, etc., which in turn causes distrust and non-cooperation among political parties, inter-party violence, etc. Surely, opposing political views are taken into consideration for solving political problems in many counties; yet, due to political culture of intolerance, many solvable political problems sustains for a long time in Bangladesh.
The culture of revenge taking politics is another concern. Behind such a deep rooted political culture, there are many reasons -- the culture of intolerance, victimization of leaders and activists of other parties for political purpose, etc. Once a party comes to power, it becomes a sort of routine work to take revenge over opposition parties which repressed earlier. Extreme reflections of it are particularly seen immediately after elections. This culture consequently increases armed politics, inter-party conflicts, kills leaders and activists, motivates to sue against opposition leaders and activists for political purpose, encourages ruling parties to stay in power by any means, etc. These eventually reduce the possibility of constructive politics and establish might or muscle power over reasonableness in politics.
Political division on the basis of 'in favour of' and 'against' the great liberation war at extreme level is another concern. Certainly, there is no reason to support those who opposed liberation war and caused enormous loss of the state. I am certainly in favour of liberation war, its spirit and freedom fighters or those who fought for and somehow supported to liberation war. But the considerable problem with such division at extreme level, if continues for generations, is that new generations may grow up with utmost enmity to each other of the dividing groups, thereby, leaving higher chances of undue deprivations of some citizens particularly who are children of Razakars (or those who somehow opposed to liberation war) but are in favour of the liberation war and may be patriotic, increased conflicts, further division of the nation, etc.
Military and semi-military regimes or involvement of military with national politics are another concern. Indeed, such involvement occurred for several times in Bangladesh; nevertheless, the military -- patriots of the nation -- has remained distanced from politics for more than two decades, in spite of the fact that it backed the 2007-2008 care taker government. To many, this involvement was because of situational necessity. However, as is widely believed, involvement of military with politics usually have adverse impacts on politics, particularly with the establishment of dictatorship in most cases, restrictions of freedom of press and conscience, and putting some other barriers to democratic progression. Democratic progression, in contrast, continues in developing countries like India due to several reasons including the absence of military in politics.
There are some other major political concerns including armed politics, a sort of militant politics, politics of blame-game, the necessity of subversive political activities for realizing reasonable political demands, foreign influenced politics, etc. Though some of these concerns exist in different countries, armed politics, political blame-game and foreign influenced politics are of particular concerns for Bangladesh. These concerns definitely bring out further bearings on overall politics through causing political conflicts, establishing muscle power based politics, putting hindrance to expected development of politics, etc., and on other aspects including overall development of the state.
There is no doubt that political problems are major concerns for any country including Bangladesh. Some political problems of this country, as is considered, have originated from the pre-independent era and since the independence of the state, but other problems have begun later; nevertheless, some solvable major political concerns have remained unsolved for decades. As is expected, giving adequate attention and making according efforts to improving various conditions essential for overall development -- political and others -- of the country and taking the country internationally forward have largely remained afar. The above mentioned political concerns thus need to be appropriately addressed.
Political parties -- the ruling and others -- are certainly the main responsible agents for addressing political concerns. Other groups or parties including those who opposed to the liberation war and their next generations need to change their attitudes towards the state and play their due roles as citizens. People's opinion may also be sought to solve some major political concerns, which are largely controversial and may not be solved by political parties on reasonable grounds. I think that it is the right time to address major political concerns in order to ensure better politics and overall progression of the country as per expectation.
The writer is an independent researcher