When a disaster strikes a country, it is the responsibility of both the government and opposition political parties to tackle it together and stand by the helpless people.
However, opposition parties, including Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), have been limited to paying only lip service to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic as they hardly provided assistance to people in need.They also frequently blamed the government for the Covid-19 prevalence, claming that it failed to face the national disaster.
Political analysts and civil society members said like the government, the opposition parties have also a responsibility towards the country’s people and they should stand by the people and extend cooperation to the government during any national disaster like pandemic.
But it seems that BNP and its allies in Jatiya Oikya Front and 20-party alliance themselves are infected with coronavirus as they have been staying in isolation during this crisis without playing their role to overcome it, they said.
“The oppositions are political parties of this country. So, they also have a responsibility towards the people. Unfortunately, the opposition parties didn’t stand by the people during this coronavirus pandemic,” Prof Dr Gias Uddin Mollah, president of Bangladesh Political Science Association, told the Daily Sun.
He said the opposition political parties should have stood by the people through creating mass awareness about the coronavirus and providing assistance to helpless people as per their ability. “But the government has been fighting it alone. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is leading the fight against the pandemic while the opposition parties are only paying lip service to it,” he said.
Talking to the Daily Sun, Sharif Jamil, general secretary of Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (BAPA), said opposition parties should extend cooperation to the government to ensure proper support to all the helpless people of the country during this coronavirus pandemic.According to the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), Bangladesh has reported 7,531 deaths and 512,496 infections from coronavirus as of December 29. First three cases of the highly contagious virus were detected in the country on March 8 while the first death was reported on March 18.
As the virus continued to spread across the country, the government took various measures, including increasing healthcare services to ensure proper treatment for Covid-19 patients, and carried out programmes to make people aware of the virus.
It shut markets and educational institutions and suspended all modes of communications early to contain the virus.
During the pandemic, the Awami League government provided assistance to the pandemic-hit people in various ways and made a work plan to overcome the possible Covid-19 impacts on the country’s economy.
Awami League leaders, including its General Secretary Obaidul Quader had urged BNP to stand by the people and stop making political gains during the crisis.
BNP and its allies fail to stand by victims
Since the beginning of the virus transmission, BNP, Jatiya Oikya Front and 20-party alliance have been blaming inadequate measures of the government for the pandemic in a bid to gain political mileage.
They alleged that the government failed to ensure sufficient facilities for the treatment of Covid-19 patients and contain the virus.
However, major opposition parties failed to come up with any assistance for thousands of people who were left helpless due to the pandemic.
It only provided food items and distributed some protective gears for a very few people at some parts of the country, including Dhaka, which was name only for a major opposition party like it.
A number of leaders of different opposition parties, including BNP, belong to the affluent section of the society and many of their supporters are also big businessmen and industrialists. But they neither stood by the helpless and destitute people nor extended assistance to their own party leaders and activists anywhere in the country.
Most leaders of BNP and other components of the 20-party alliance and Jatiya Oikya Front did not come out of their residences. They even failed to visit their helpless party men.
“The ruling party leaders have been continuously telling lies about us. That’s why they don’t see our activities (standing by the people) during this pandemic,” BNP Senior Joint Secretary General Ruhul Kabir Rizvi told the Daily Sun.
He claimed that BNP, its front and associate organisations have been standing by the country’s helpless and destitute people by providing food and protective gears for them.
Insiders said the leaders of the opposition parties are actually not interested to spend money for the helpless people as they have been away from power for long.
Like BNP, its allies in Jatiya Oikya Front and 20-party alliances also did not play any role to overcome the country’s crisis as they remained silent without providing any financial support to the affected people or creating mass awareness about the pandemic.
Reza Kibria, general secretary of Gono Forum, a key ally of BNP in Jatiya Oikya Front, claimed that as per their capacity, the party leaders distributed food and other necessary goods for the helpless people and different organisations across the country through maintaining social distancing.
Jatiya Party not active in helping people
The main opposition in Parliament, Jatiya Party, also failed to stand by the people during the coronavirus pandemic while most of their leaders have been staying in their residences.
Party sources said its leaders and activists at the grassroots level are very much unhappy with the party senior leaders as they did not stand even by the helpless leaders and activists during the pandemic.
The situation came to the light as hundreds of people laid a siege to party founder HM Ershad’s residence in Rangpur and staged demonstrations on April 16 demanding relief, locals said.
Talking to the Daily Sun, Jatiya Party Presidium member SM Faisal Chisti claimed that their party is the only political party outside the government which has stood by maximum people during the pandemic.
However, the party insiders said it provided assistance for a negligible number of people while protective gears to some organisations name only.
Left-leaning parties play poor role
Most of the country’s left-leaning political parties also routinely blamed the government for incapacity to face the coronavirus situation without playing their due role.
Their leaders neither stood by the helpless people nor conducted any notable mass awareness programmes.
Asked about their role during coronavirus situation, former coordinator of Left Democratic Alliance (LDA) Saiful Huq claimed that they stood by the people as per their ability. “We provided food and protective gears like face masks during the pandemic,” he said.