Weekly The Generation, Year 1, Issue 17
December 26, 2023
Just like twice before, the country is heading towards a “one-sided” parliamentary election, which will deepen the political and economic crisis, said speakers at a discussion. The election will not be acceptable at home and abroad, they added.
“Whether we give it legitimacy or not, the country is heading towards a one-sided election. The results of the vote have been determined. But the election of seat-sharing is nothing new because the last two polls had the same system. This is regretful and shameful for the nation,” said former cabinet secretary Ali Imam Majumder.
Addressing the discussion titled “Bangladesh at a crossroads: election, economy, and external relationship”, Supreme Court lawyer ZI Khan Panna said the coming election would be a farce. This type of election is for the corrupt, he told the event organised by the Centre for Governance Studies.
“The affidavits of the candidates give an idea of how their wealth increased. Some of their wealth multiplied by 30 to 400 times. The banks are being looted amid an utter lack of accountability,” he said.
Former Election Commissioner Brig Gen (retd) M Sakhawat Hossain said,the process of the next election can be summed up as a “search for the opposition party”.
Some political parties are begging for “seats”, he said, adding that 26 parties would participate in the election, but many people would not be able to say the names of 13 of these parties.
“The ruling party has ensured 240 seats after completing the seat-sharing,” he said, adding that a new definition of participatory polls is being created.
“Some are trying to say that if people participate [in the polls], it would be participatory…. Participatory election means the participation of the parties that pose a challenge in a competitive election.
“I doubt if voter turnout would reach 25 percent,” he said. Debapriya Bhattacharya, distinguished fellow at the Centre for Policy Dialogue, said, “This is not an election. It can rather be termed an attempt to hold a special election.
“Although the last two elections had constitutional legitimacy, those lacked political and moral legitimacy.”
If the lack of accountability and legitimacy is not addressed, the economic progress will be dealt a major setback.
Badiul Alam Majumder, secretary of Sushashoner Jonno Nagorik (Sujan), said, “The legality of the election commissioners’ appointment is questionable. The polls schedule and election are also questionable. This monopoly of an election will do further damage to the economic and political situation of the country.”
Security Analyst Air Commodore (retd) Ishfaq Ilahi Choudhury said according to some people, there is no freedom of expression. “If that were the case, one would not be able to publicly criticise the government.”
Former Bangladesh Bank governor Salehuddin Ahmed said the government often highlighted the external problems facing the economy while irregularities in the banking sector and additional expenditure for projects remained unaddressed.
If politics is not on the right track, accountability will not be ensured and the right policy will not be adopted, he added.