357Published on September 21, 2022
Pranab Kumar Panday:
There is continual criticism and counter-criticism between the government and opposition parties in Bangladeshi politics before the 12th National Parliament elections to be held in 2023. The ruling party is trying to win the election campaign by touting the successes of the Awami League (AL) during Sheikh Hasina's tenure. The ruling AL pleads with the public to trust them by pointing to the country's improving economy, the completion of landmark projects like the Padma Bridge, and the effective management of catastrophic events like the Corona pandemic.
On the other hand, the BNP and its allies have been quite active in their criticism of the government. They are so preoccupied with finding faults that they have failed to recognise any of the government's successes, despite their constant evidence. Elections are scheduled for the next year, and throughout that time, there have been ongoing efforts to stir up chaos in the country for agitation. On the occasion of the Prime Minister's visit to India at the beginning of September, the opposition has been spreading fabricated and misleading information about the government and the AL to try to make them look bad.
Political propaganda is nothing new in Bangladesh. However, efforts to mislead the voters through propaganda and misinformation have intensified in the run-up to the elections. The BNP has been trying to convince people that the Prime Minister's visit to India was a bust. Instead, they are positioning this visit as a meeting to plot India's role in putting AL in power in the upcoming elections. Therefore, even if the BNP spreads these irrelevant lies and misinformation, I firmly believe that people will not believe them as they only trust Sheikh Hasina, who can keep them safe.
Amid various criticisms, BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir may have inadvertently exposed the truth during a conversation with the media in his constituency of Thakurgaon. While criticising the AL government on various issues, at one stage, he said, "We were better than this during the Pakistan era". By making such a comment, he has done a terrible injustice to the 3,000,000 martyrs of the war of independence, the 200,000 mothers and sisters who lost their dignity, and the liberation warriors. What is clear from this statement is that the pro-Pakistani politics of Mirza Fakhrul or his party is still going on. Looking at the history of Bangladesh, it will be evident that the leader of Mirza Fakhrul Islam's party played an instrumental role in establishing a pro-Pakistani regime in Bangladesh after the killing of Bangabandhu and his family in 1975. Mr Fakrul and his party are carrying out the legacy of their leader.
After 1975, a pro-Pakistani regime was sustained in Bangladesh by the BNP or Jatiya Party. Since the BNP and its allies have ties with Pakistan, they intend to use propaganda to erode public support for the AL. Their pro-Pakistani political stance has not helped improve relations with our nearest neighbour India. Instead, BNP has consistently engaged in anti-Indian politics. Since the dawn of history, the parties in their alliance with BNP have been trying to sow discord among the people by spreading false information about religious issues and presenting themselves as anti-India.
We have previously learnt from the media about communicating with the head of Pakistan's intelligence service with the BNP or its leaders. Due to the depth of their relationship, Pakistan and China have always maintained strong ties with the BNP. Since both Pakistan and China have a long history of hostility toward India, BNP has sought chiefly to maintain minds and thoughts with them by bringing up the opposition to India.
Therefore, Mirza Fakhrul Islam has erroneously stated the truth by appreciating their best allies' contribution at a time when the BNP has been out of office for a long time and the hope of returning to power has dwindled. Indeed, he deserves praise for telling the truth. The party's goal of coming to power by criticising the government, adopting an opposing stance on Bangladeshi politics, and boycotting the election commission and elections seems unlikely to be realised.
Over the AL's three terms in power, the country has made significant strides forward. During the tenure of this government, the per capita income of the people has increased, the base of the economy has been strengthened, the government has been able to deal with disasters like the Corona pandemic successfully, and the government has also been successful in dealing with the global recession triggered by the post-Corona war in Russia and Ukraine. Nonetheless, despite significant progress, the ultimate goal may still have not been reached in some fields. Corruption is destroying many of the government's most significant achievements. In her election pledge of 2018, the Hon'ble Prime Minister promised "zero tolerance" for corruption. Since then, she has taken several measures to combat the issue. But the progress has slowed at times for mysterious reasons, leaving many to wonder what's going on. We believe that the Hon'ble Prime Minister will consider this matter seriously and take a firm stand against corruption in the coming days to make the country corruption-free.
At the same time, the increase in the prices of various products in the international market due to the war in Russia and Ukraine and the increase in the price of commodities in the domestic market due to the manipulation of a group is hurting the people before the next elections. We know that the Hon'ble Prime Minister is trying to resolve this issue. We expect her to consider this issue seriously and play an influential role in controlling commodity prices as soon as possible by breaking the market syndicate. If the price of goods is controlled in the domestic market, the people will feel relieved, which will positively affect the AL in the politics of votes.
Winning an election requires the support of the people, which is earned through the work of politicians. The way the BNP is proceeding in politics will never benefit them. A crisis of leadership at the central level and a kind of disillusionment among the workers are the main obstacles in their way forward. As a result, various media sources have indicated that keeping the party's unity intact could be a tough challenge in the days to come. At the same time, how long will the other parties of the BNP alliance stay with the BNP? So far, the BNP has not been able to present any lucrative action plan to attract people to stand against the development of the AL. There are also concerns about whether they will be able to do so in the future. Attempting to mislead the people of modern-day Bangladesh by using weapons like criticism of the government and opposition to India will be futile. Mirza Fakhrul Islam's statement in support of Pakistan may have been driven by his genuine affection for Pakistan and his exasperation with his party's politics.
The writer is a Professor of Public Administration at the University of Rajshahi