The irresistible achievements of Bangladesh under the Awami League government led by Sheikh Hasina have become a headache for many. Several groups at home and abroad have had trouble accepting that Bangladesh has become a role model of development. Consequently, these factions are attempting to impede the country's progress. Since the eleventh parliamentary election is scheduled to take place in 2023, these malevolent forces are trying to deceive the public with different forms of propaganda. It is worrying that many people are making deliberate efforts to mislead the public by spreading only partly factual or false information. Social media has grown in importance due to the prime minister's success in establishing Digital Bangladesh. Many of the country's populace regularly engage with this communication medium. Therefore, this platform is being used to disseminate false information further and to confusion among the public.
Their rhetoric does not dupe the majority of Bangladeshis. However, it is also true that persistent falsehood may lead to confusion if it's not confronted. Unfortunately, the current governing party seldom presents the country with compelling rebuttals to such falsehoods. It is no secret that the Padma Bridge has been the target of much misinformation and deceit. Those peddling these falsehoods are fully aware that the Padma Bridge is a monumental accomplishment for Bangladesh. The Awami League government has accomplished much, and this is one of their successes. Building the Padma Bridge using money from the government's coffers was a gift from the Sheikh Hasina government to the people of Bangladesh. The bridge will symbolise Bangladesh's confidence for time immemorial.
Following their failure to mislead the public on the Padma Bridge issue, the group has shifted its focus to the energy sector. Load shedding was widespread in the days leading up to Eid. The government implemented load shedding because the impact of the Ukraine-Russia conflict drove up the price of fuel and gas used to produce electricity on the international market, preventing it from producing enough power to meet the demand. Consequently, it is problematic for the government to import gas to produce expensive energy. In addition, there has been a little drop in the amount of domestic gas available for use in power plants. Because of this, load shedding has been implemented in various parts of the country, despite the fact that production capacity is sufficient to meet demand.
It's worth noting that Bangladesh isn't the only place hit by a power outage. Nearly every nation in Europe, the USA and our neighbours is experiencing power outages. American and European sanctions on Russia have resulted in a halt to gas and fuel supplies to the European countries, driving up the price of these commodities on the global market and contributing to a significant shortfall in power output across these nations. Electricity prices in Europe have risen dramatically during peak hours, prompting calls for reduced use.
Because Bangladesh is not a completely self-contained nation, it stands to reason that the country would feel the effects of the war. A faction, however, is seeking to throw the country's citizens off track by placing blame for the country's low power generation on the government. It has been made quite apparent by the Hon'ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in several speeches that the government is not to blame here. In addition, the government must spend a lot of money subsidising electricity plants. The Awami League-led government's acquisition of the electricity industry over the last 13.5 years has enraged the opposition. They have been exploiting the energy crisis caused by the conflict between Ukraine and Russia to spread false information in the hopes that it would spark protests against the government. I have confidence that people will not be led astray by their deceit.
But the government must make a deliberate choice on this matter. The electricity department and the Awami League need to portray the issue more logically to the public, just as the prime minister has done for the country. In addition, the power company should provide early notification of load shedding to the public to lessen the impact on residents. As an added note, load shedding has to be implemented nationwide, not only in isolated areas. In a short while, the SSC and HSC exams will be held. The energy adviser to the prime minister has already predicted that the current scenario may last until September. If that is the case, we need a foolproof method for implementing load shedding at any moment that does not disrupt the test-takers.
The country's edible oil and gasoline prices have increased in response to rising global prices. The government has already implemented several increases in the price of edible oil. The government is considering fuel price increases. Oil cannot be supplied to the people at a reasonable rate if the government have to pay a higher price to import it from other sources. But we, the people, must exercise restraint in this instance. It is essential to keep in mind that the previous two years have been very unprecedented. The COVID-19 pandemic has had far-reaching consequences, touching the health sector, economy, and education. The global economic impact of this catastrophe has been significant. However, under the practical guidance of the Hon'ble prime minister, Bangladesh has remained mostly impervious to the global economic downturn. Even so, the government will need to deliberate on all these topics to mitigate the potential damage from the current economic downturn.
Propaganda is a potent technique employed to overcome the election conundrum in many modern nations. Each political faction employs its unique brand of propaganda to win elections. Like their counterparts elsewhere, the opposition coalition in Bangladeshi politics persists in disseminating disinformation as propaganda to undermine support for the Awami League and its leader, Sheikh Hasina. As a result of their lack of success in winning the support of the public, opposition alliances are now engaged in an information campaign designed to mislead their fellow citizens. Therefore, we should remember that it is never prudent to consider the opponent weak.
Moreover, if a lie is repeatedly presented and no protest is made against it, the people may often find that lie to be true. In light of this, it is imperative that the government and the governing party, the Awami League, dispel the falsehoods and expose the truth to the people of Bangladesh. We must remember that we do not have any alternative but to keep faith in Sheikh Hasina to keep the development momentum intact.
The writer is a Professor, Department of Public Administration, Rajshahi University
Source: sun Editorial