Congratulations to Bangladesh Awami League on winning the country’s 11th general election on December 30, 2018. Because of this landslide victory, Honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, mother of humanity, has been catapulted into the international limelight for scoring a hat trick. She has now become a prime minister for a record fourth time; also the first one to achieve this feat in our country! Hasina is an astute leader, one of the best in the world. She has earned global recognition for allowing the Rohingyas temporary shelter in Bangladesh. She faced the wave when most world leaders were escaping from the tempest.
What is boon for Awami League is also a bane for Bangladesh Nationalist Party. BNP has been defeated intellectually and financially. Some leaked YouTube conversations among opposition leaders show their lack of harmony. They lean too much upon foreign instructions and failed to prepare a successful blueprint for the election. Their affiliations with anti-liberation forces did not go down well with the voters. Now Bangladeshi people are more aware and knowledgeable about our glorious war of liberation. The young generation supports AL for their pro-liberation activities. BNP has not felt the pulse of our young generation.The erudite Dr. Kamal Hossain, once an erstwhile follower of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, made a faux pas by forming a grand alliance. He has dented his own reputation. Unabashedly, he joined a group where Jamat-e-Islami is also included. In an interview in the Times of India he mentioned his ignorance about the presence of anti-liberation elements in his alliance! He claims not to have joined the alliance had he known about the war-criminals involvement in the election. What a mockery! The leaked YouTube videos show, that some of his colleagues are also unhappy with him.
Surprisingly and disappointingly, the opposition parties had not campaigned well. A cricket match is always interesting when there is a fair contest. When two teams battle equally well, any match is fun to watch. This election failed to give that sense of excitement. There was no contest. It was like a cricket match between Bangladesh and Papua New Guinea. Bangladesh will defeat Papua New Guinea anytime.
BNP blames the ruling party for abrogating their rights. There is no denying that they could not do enough to put up festoons, placards, banners and posters. Some YouTube videos do prove that. It is nothing unexpected in sub-continental countries. But it is nothing like August 21, 2004 grenade attacks. Who will forget that day? The state, instead of giving its protection, tried to erase the entire opposition party! Why couldn’t BNP apply other strategies for making their presence felt? There was not enough promotional work, virtually. Their promotional song looked relatively banal and non-committal compared to “Jitbe Ebar Nouka“. BNP still has some core supporters. Unfortunately, they are frustrated with their own leaders as they have no sense of direction. The party members are not motivated enough to work for them. Their leaders are mired in internal conflicts. Many die-hard senior BNP leaders are largely ignored. The BNP candidates were not potent and credible enough to give a fight. Some experts accuse them of buying nomination papers. 51 candidates had withdrawn their names while election was going on. It was a mistake. They could have got more votes had they continued to take up challenges as the opposition. Missing the 2014 election was also another grave error, though they do not disclose it publicly. Because of boycotting that election, BNPs position is at all time low. Instead of crying foul, they should look at themselves in the mirror and start asking some tough questions and find better solutions to their problems. They should do SWOT analyses and come better prepared for the next election to be held in 2023. BNP should invigorate the pathway to democracy by accepting defeat graciously and congratulating their opponent. There is nothing wrong in being humble. In their next manifesto, they should focus more on development and ensuring citizens rights not party leaders betterment.
From the beginning till the end, Awami League has performed well throughout their election campaign. They had no lack of energy. They drummed up their support by giving candidacies to current ODI cricket captain Mashrafe Bin Mortuza and Naimur Rahman Durjoy, captain of our first ever historic test match. They always garner a tremendous amount of support from the cultural industry. Their secular ideology attracts many. The minority groups feel better when Awami League comes to power as it tolerates no religious discrimination. Now, it has a good blend of youth and experience. All is boding well for AL.
In the previous 10 years, the Hasina government has successfully achieved the yearly Gross National Product of more than six per cent. The profitable garments sector has given employment to 45 lakh workers. Many women have got more opportunities to work. On average, now life expectancy is 72 years in Bangladesh. Our government has tackled terrorism with strong fist. The much-awaited Padma Bridge Project and Metro Rail Project are under construction.
Bangladesh Awami League has absolute majority. There is also a downside to it. Hasina has to be aware of it. She should show her iron fist if her overzealous supporters go overboard. They should not be allowed to run amok. Our Honourable Prime Minister is always honest and dedicated towards her work. No one loves this country better than she does. She should be cautious about her sycophants; sometimes people wear masks and change them in many opportunistic ways. Bangladesh needs her and she needs Bangladesh. Therefore, we continue to dream of a romantic Bangladesh, a golden land that will have plurality, accountability, sovereignty, press freedom, inclusion, religious freedom, harmony and peace. Let Bangabandhu’s dream and all freedom fighters’ dream of Golden Bangladesh become alive and running! Let the Almighty give her more strength and willpower to run our country justly, harmoniously and gracefully!
Nasih Ul Wadud Alam (Paolo), Lecturer, Department of English, School of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences (SLASS), Chittagong Independent University & Research Fellow (PhD), Department of English, Islamic University, Kushtia