Fifty one years have elapsed since Bangladesh’s victory over Pakistan through nine months of War of Independence. In Bangladesh, Victory Day means joy and celebration. Throughout December, the country is full of festivities. But this time, it was different. Political tension affected our victory celebrations to some extent. BNP held a mass rally in Dhaka to press home its demands. Six out of seven BNP MPs have already resigned. The Election Commission has announced by-elections in vacant seats. On the other hand, BNP announced a 10-point demand from the Golapbagh rally on December 10. The party has also announced to hold a simultaneous movement to realise the 10-point demand. On December 13, a protest march was held for the same reasons. Meanwhile, Awami League is going to hold its national council on December 24. On that day, BNP gave the programme of mass rally. How did BNP throw such programme on the day of the country's main political party’s national council? Later, however, BNP changed the date of their rally. But the secret intention of BNP has come out. The party, which has been out of power for 16 years, wants to create a violent and chaotic situation. The question is - why do you have to clash, set fire, and create dead bodies to go to power? It means BNP’s violent movement aims at bringing third party to power? Has BNP become a mercenary political party? Rather, it is a party that works for the implementation of other's plans. Apart from mass rally on 24th December, BNP has been behaving intolerant for some days. A kind of instability is being observed among BNP leaders. The rally in Dhaka can be quoted as example.
BNP said it will hold a rally in Nayapaltan. Dhaka Metropolitan Police Commissioner gave permission to hold the rally in Suhrawardy Udyan. Suhrawardy Udyan is the best place to hold rally in Dhaka city. Awami League, BNP and many other political parties held many rallies here in the past. But it was not understood why BNP suddenly took a stand against it. What BNP did in Golapbagh on December 10, could have been done in Suhrawardy Udyan. So, why the party tried to create so much tension about December 10? Why BNP leaders and workers started gathering in Nayapaltan from December 7? What did BNP want to do with 160 sacks of rice and huge amount of water? Finally, BNP could not hold a rally in Nayapaltan. The conversation between BNP General Secretary Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir and police officer Biplab Kumar Sarkar on December 7 is viral on social media. BNP Secretary General made all efforts to make the police officer lose patience. But Biplab handled the situation with great patience, tolerance and modesty. After the December 7 incident, some important leaders including BNP General Secretary Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, Mirza Abbas, and Ruhul Kabir Rizvi were arrested. As a result, the BNP retreated and eventually held its rally at an alternative venue. It has been proved that neither the government nor the law enforcement agency wanted to prevent the BNP rally. They just wanted to ensure that there is no riot or violence in the name of rally. But what did the BNP want to achieve by rallying in Nayapaltan?
This is not the first time that an opposition party or any other MP has resigned from Parliament. BNP got a single majority in the elections on February 27, 1991. After that, BNP formed the government with the support of Jamaat. Awami League won 88 seats in that election under the caretaker government led by Justice Sahabuddin Ahmed. Awami League started a movement demanding a non-partisan neutral caretaker government to protest massive rigging in Magura and Mirpur by-elections. At one stage of this movement, all members of Awami League decided to resign from Parliament. On November 8, 1994, Awami League members of parliament submitted their written resignations to opposition leader Sheikh Hasina. The resignation letters were then sent to the Speaker on December 24. But the Speaker hesitated to accept this resignation letter. According to the constitution of Bangladesh, parliament is sovereign. But BNP took the matter to the High Court. Some of the cadres loyal to BNP were appointed as judges in the Supreme Court. BNP has made party cadres judges every time it came to power. Justice Manwar Uddin was one of them. On December 11, 1994, Justice Manwar gave an unprecedented judgment where boycotting the parliament was declared illegal. The High Court ordered the opposition members to join the parliament. This was a clear interference in the sovereignty of the National Parliament. This strategy was adopted by the then BNP government to prevent the opposition from resigning. If one-third of the members resign from the national parliament, the parliament becomes pointless and election in so many constituencies was not very realistic. This time, however, such a situation did not arise. Speaker Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury decided the resignation of six opposition members with great discretion. The decision was made quickly, which made the difference between Awami League and BNP clear. In 1994, BNP resorted to various tactics to prevent the resignation of opposition MPs. They even used the High Court. On the other hand, the Awami League followed the law unabashedly. So the question is - what was the benefit of BNP’s movement by resigning these six people who were unimportant to the parliament? They only took various facilities including duty-free cars? BNP has also done this for others. The resignation of BNP MPs will not accelerate their movement. But this resignation will give some impetus to the depoliticisation process. Our liberals can say that there is no strong opposition party like BNP in parliament. On their advice, diplomats from different countries will say that the national parliament is not inclusive. So, this untimely resignation drama is only to create the background of another one-eleven.
The movement of BNP is at the behest of someone else can be understood from its 10 point demand declared on December 10. BNP's main demand is that the next elections be held under a non-partisan caretaker government. The first three demands out of 10 points are election-related only. Among these, 4 to 10 points conflict with the first demand. The first phase states, "The current unelected illegal National Parliament should be dissolved and the unelected, undemocratic, looter fascist government should resign." I have two objections to this claim. First, if the parliament is 'unelected' and 'illegitimate' then how come the BNP MPs stayed there for four years? They didn't just stay, they took a salaries and enjoyed all the benefits as well. How did BNP live in the 'unelected' and 'illegitimate' parliament for so long? Second, when you call the government illegitimate, you have no right in making claims against it. No one can ask anything from the 'illegal government'. It is neither morally desirable nor legally possible. But the BNP has given a long plea to what they call the 'illegitimate government'. They are asking for the release of Begum Khaleda Zia to a government which they do not accept. Opposition leaders-activists, all human rights activists, journalists and clerics who performed their duties with professionalism, demanded cancellation of sentences. The illegitimate government has been asked to repeal the Digital Security Act in 10 points. It has been asked to cancel the government's decision to increase the price of electricity. The demand of BNP also says that 'the illegal government should bring the price of goods within the purchasing power of the common people'.
In 10 points, the government has also been told to form a commission to identify corruption in all state sectors including money laundering, banking and financial sector, electricity and fuel sector and stock market. Rescue of missing people, establishment of professionalism in administration and justice department are also on the list. It will take three to five years for any highly efficient and active government to implement the demands of BNP. The current government has only one year in this term. So does BNP want the current government should be in charge of running the country for one more term i.e. fourth consecutive term? Forming the government once again, Awami League will release those detained for various reasons including Begum Zia. Will repeal Digital Security Act, Anti-Terrorism Act etc. seven points of BNP's 10-point demand will be implemented. Then a non-partisan caretaker government will be established and elections will be held. Is this the meaning of BNP's claim? According to BNP, if the illegal government does everything, then what will BNP do when it comes to power? The matter is not so simple. I think, behind the 10 points, there is the evil power of one-eleven. These 10 points have been formulated from Civils’ drawing room. If the BNP had only wanted a neutral caretaker government, their demands would have been different. They could have said that the constitution should be amended to form a non-partisan government. That government will hold an election within 90 days. That’s it. But the demands made in Clause 4 to 10 apply to a political government and not to an interim government. So the question arises again. What does BNP really want? Awami League President Sheikh Hasina gave the idea of a caretaker government. She paved the way for free, fair and impartial elections during the anti-Ershad movement. Sheikh Hasina's caretaker system was an emergency system. The main spirit of the 90’s caretaker government was to stop the undemocratic practice of taking power in violation of the constitution and bring the country back to democratic flow. Some of its specific features are noteworthy. This government is for a maximum period of 90 days and the only job of this government is to conduct a fair election. One of the conditions of the caretaker government was that they could not take any policy decisions. Responsibilities should be limited to routine work. But in 2001, the caretaker government led by Justice Latifur Rahman took responsibility and started the first transgression.
BNP-Jamaat alliance came to power in 2001 and tried to undermine the caretaker government system. It was at this time that the system of 'caretaker government' actually died. This system proved to be flawed and ineffective for free, fair and impartial elections. The government that was formed under the leadership of Dr Fakhruddin Ahmed on January 11, 2007 is by no means a caretaker government. That government had struck the very spirit of the Constitution. This was basically the cue of the civilians with some western help. Where the civilized possessed infinite power unaccountable for eternity? In the name of reforms, the main aim was to eliminate politics. The process of depoliticisation was implemented in the name of political reform. Civilian government recklessly arrested politicians. After the arrest, all those false accusations were circulated in the media and the mission to make the politicians criminals before the trial was carried out skillfully. The second target of the eleventh government was businessmen and industrialists. The civil society embarked on the mission of destroying the country's economy by targeting them. Harassment of traders, illegal extortion from various business establishments started. Many businessmen went abroad after closing their business to protect their honour. Many were humiliated in the country. In two years, hundreds of crores of money were illegally collected from business establishments. After the departure of 1/11 government, the High Court declared this money illegal.
The HC ordered to return the money but such order is yet to be complied with. One-eleven governments indulged in the game of destroying the private sector. As a result, the backbone of the country's economy was practically broken. The government led by Dr Fakhruddin Ahmed and Moin U Ahmed embarked on a mission to destroy educational institutions. The people of this country witnessed the brutality of the riots in Dhaka University, the brutality of university teachers being taken away with ropes tied around their waists. Barriers are created in all areas of agriculture, small and medium industries. One-eleven was a regime of anarchy. Except for a few civilised and those in power, no one was better. A few western countries and a small section of civil society plunged the country into deep darkness in the name of reform. Does the BNP want such a regime in the country again? At least it seems so from the 10 point demands of BNP. The 10 point is actually a reform proposal of one-eleven. These 10 points are a modified version of what reformist politicians and civil servants used to say at that time. Just like old wine in new bottles. This 10 point is again creating a way for the evils of one-eleven to come to power. Let’s assume that a neutral government is formed in the country as per the demand of BNP. This unelected government will come and say look politicians have made these demands. So first the garbage must be removed. It will take time. Civilians will say, repeal the Digital Security Act, investigate the disappearance, and list money launderers etc. The game of reform will start again. An incompetent government without elections will run the country for years. The character of politicians will continue to be damaged. Businessmen will be blackmailed, harassed. State extortion will bring business to a standstill.
(The writer is the Executive Director, Poriprekkhit)
Brushed by M Firoz Al Mamun