The country’s political environment has been quiet over the last week as the ruling and opposition parties decided to hold talks to ensure a peaceful and participatory general election. Although the first dialogue between the ruling 14-party alliance and opposition coalition Jatiya Oikya Front produced no tangible outcome, what we found heartening is that both sides agreed to talk further. It means the doors for discussion are still open to find a solution amicably.
Unfortunately, tolerance in this country has always been in short supply and all parties to a greater of lesser degree must share the guilt. This might be the reason why some leaders of Oikya Front could not help but castigating the government and threatening launching of ‘tougher movement’ while the spirit of dialogue was still in the air. Such political rhetoric was quite unnecessary. In this way by disturbing the atmosphere of dialogue nothing can be gained but much will be lost.To this Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina expressed her exasperation and raised a legitimate question about the motive of Oikya Front. She asked, “They have joined talks and at the same time announced movement. What kind of talks is it?”
Apart from political calmness, the dialogue also generated much positive feelings among the masses. But if political leaders from both sides are not patient enough and willing to compromise, the opportunity of peace could slip away and the country would plunge into the horror of election-time violence.
Therefore, immediate steps are needed to bring the government and the opposition alliance to the negotiating table again. All parties have a stake in a peaceful and stable Bangladesh. Given the complex and wide range of issues to which the parties differ, it was quite expected that they would not reach a consensus in one sitting. But all is not lost yet. As long as the parties keep the door of dialogue open, discuss with an open mind and give priority to national interest, there will be a chance for holding a peaceful and participatory election. So, let’s not squander this opportunity. Let good sense prevail.