Political distress and Upraised Authoritarianism in Bangladesh Incubus of International Intervention

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MD. Shahadat Hossine#

Unstable political condition and internal strife for consuming power is one of the common features of developing countries. In Bangladesh unlawful practices of power, debilitation of opposing, seizing the media, unleashing mischievous acts by different sects of regime and lack of tolerance to each other have been occurring since 1990s when somehow rhetoric democracy emerged here. But with the unilateral election of Awami League (AL) on 5 January, 2014 this rhetoric democracy has been demised from Bangladesh. Where democracy means endurance and respect to others opinion and comprehensive approach to improve state’s condition, there is a sign of democracy, only election, in Bangladesh that was ruined also.po2
At present an impasse circumstance is going on in Bangladesh. There is now no formal opposition party in Parliament and the main opposition party is bereft of any political facilities by government. From 1990s both Awami League (AL) and Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), two mainstream political cohort of Bangladesh has ruled the country as a manner of one by one. This system has showed and proved that both of them were rough and engaged in anti state and public activities. As a result none could sustain consecutively as regime and without finding any option people had to choose one of them. With the consistency of this information AL’s govt. of 2008-13 was also a perpetrator of doing anti state, society and public activities with unprecedented torture over opposing and control over media. Besides the holy Religion of majority Bangladeshi people, Islam and its great followers and preachers were severely humiliated, hindered and persecuted by Al govt. in very heinous manner.po3 Moreover 2008’s AL regime was much more genuflected than 1996-2001 period. Perhaps considering these facts AL decided to conduct an election in 2014 according to their desire so that they need not to face the public and their successor as they did exaggerations. To fulfill its interest AL govt. excluded the system of Caretaker Government (CTG) for inter-pull period from Constitution which was incorporated only for its insurgency and upheavals in mid 1990s. But the then opposing BNP could not arrange any systematic upsurge against govt. and could not involve people extensively within its movement.  With the course of time the term of 10th pull of Bangladesh came and BNP and its allies decided not to take part in election for the cause of no faith on AL and its manipulated Election Commission (EC) and administration to arrange a fair, credible and impartial election where people’s desire must be reflected in unimpeded manner. Besides BNP has an inherent belief that AL could not arrange either election or bear international stress and will ultimately fall down by its own dug cannels. At last all desires and acts of BNP bore no fruit to it.
As AL and BNP are the most prominent political parties having around equal public support and regime history, there is a significant distinction between them. AL is one of the initial political parties of post British and early Pakistan rule, by birth in 1949 segregated from Muslim League, and emerged itself as active and vital opposition party of West Pakistan based Muslim League and military tyranny regime. This party has the strongest contribution to our liberation war. For long period of revolution against Pakistan and having pragmatic student wing in whole East Pakistan including University of Dhaka (DU), it has a strong political base and ground both in the field and within leaders. But irony is that after obtaining freedom and getting ruling power drastically and catastrophically the behavior of AL changed negative engaged in fatal mischievous activities which were grim for both common people and states sovereign status. As a result coup happened and some deviated military assassinated the whole royal family of Sheik Mujibur Rahman.  On the contrary BNP established by freedom fighter, sector commander and lieutenant general Zia-ur-Rahman in 1977 after 1975 coup and stabilized the political condition.po4 Various other political party leaders, bureaucrats and retired military persons merged in BNP from early period and Zia-ur-Rahman welcomed them to increase leaders at his newly bored party having also a fascination to bureaucrats and military personnel. Having no political background and anti regime movement experience and getting power very easily, organizational strength of BNP was very feeble from early stage. After tyranny Ershad period BNP again got victory in Election but could not resist the trimmer politicians incorporating into its body which accelerated institutional weak also. Regaining regime power in 1996 AL cautiously handled its internal strength but lost fame because of further rough activities and BNP got back power in 2001 pull. In 2006 after the end of BNP-Jamat coalition govt. another political crisis reemerged for the matter of conducting election and chief Adviser of Caretaker govt. This crisis helped for generating military backed Caretaker govt. who ruled around two years. This govt. got chance to be established only for AL’s redundancy and for this reason it was against BNP from onset which also deteriorated BNP’s position. In   the pull of 2008, arranged by Fakhruddin and Moinuddin govt., BNP received the worst result from its birth obtaining only 32 seats at Parliament out of 300 and became a very weak opposition party. With the amenities of unanimous majority AL changed the constitution according to its accord and rule out the system of Caretaker govt. At this stage for long history of fragile organizational strength BNP could not do any significant revolution against AL and did not take part in 10th parliamentary pull.po5
po6After and before 5th January questionable election, it was believed by BNP that AL has to resign and call for another interim election because international organizations and other great powers with democratic ideology will oust AL. We know that from world power United States of America (USA) and European Union (EU) and international organization United Nations (UN) are a great advocate of spreading and practicing democracy all over the world. There is another significant and vital impact of India at any important matter of Bangladesh even regime change as we are literally “India Locked” country. Although USA is a fabulous democratic country, it is only busy to change regime under the cover of democracy in the area where its strong ties are available and Islam is powerful at political arena like Arab States. American Democracy is only sensitive to the regime and states of anti US sentiment. As in Bangladesh Islam is not politically powerful and AL also in one side secular, USA felt no headache for its unilateral victory. There is a saying that any decision or message from Western countries comes to Dhaka via Delhi. Besides AL has an empirical and testified good relation with India irrespective of regime. India also feels better with AL and tries its level best to keep AL power. Another truth is that at present USA has to contravene and impede the emergence of China for which India is badly needed for it. As India is the key supporter of current AL regime, USA has to be mute to get India beside it against China. On the other hand USA has been suffering for legitimacy to make any comment advocating democracy for its “Double Standard” role in Arab Spring. After that its super power status and actual world convincing power is declining with the emergence of Sino-Russian comprehensive approach. So, USA faces difficulties in Southern states when talks for democracy and good-governance even in Bangladesh several Ministers made blasphemy remarks against US diplomats and Special agents. But USA was stranded to Al’s strong anti US sentiment without several rhetoric briefs and also has to pacify India. po7
European Union is the largest market for Bangladesh with giving about 60% General System of Preference (GSP) facilities on goods and products. EU is though another vindicator and donator for Democracy, has no applicable and vivid steps to establish it. However EU like US, UN and other democratic powers did not send any monitoring cell for 5th January election. It is widespread seen that when any southern barber or rough state on the eye of US and other Western states go out  of their direction or do anything hampering their interest, they inflict trade, business, diplomatic blockades on them and approach to military forcing to make subdued. But Bangladesh is not like Iran or North Korea with Nuclear Weapon promise and oil resource that EU with US will go to any force against her. Contrarily it is tough to it to find another supplier of their needed substances. Moreover EU is not political organization and loath to interfere ones internal matter and it has no forceful behavior like US.
As only one world mass accepted and vast organization, the role of UN is not much satisfactory for the betterment of all. Above all it is literally confined with the decision of USA and its allies and widely to P-5 of Security Council. Moreover it has no permanent army also to settle any dispute either inter or intra states. So, it must take temporary Peace Keeping Force (PKF) from developing states as there are more people than western and developed are reluctant to be PKF in spite of donating and helping to PKF. Bangladesh is the top most supplier of PKF. As rhetoric forceful and advocate to transparency, accountability, good-governance and democracy, there are less chance by UN to threat or take any forceful actions against current ruling party. On the other hand we various time heard that UN may abrogate or obliterate the PFK of Bangladesh which will come as a great bolt to undemocratic characterized elected govt. But it is apparently seeing that UN won’t do it. In Africa and Middle East terrorism and ethnic conflict and genocides are going on in an unprecedented manner. So, it’s too ticklish for UN to find vast sources of PKF from other states. On the other hand, the charter of UN is also a big hindrance to its steps for securing democracy and rights of common people of any country.
There is an undeniable reality that no government of Bangladesh was or will be out of Indian influence and all mainstream political parties try its best level to be trust worthy to India. Contrarily India from the birth of Bangladesh has been wanted to mitigate its interest from Bangladesh influencing the govt. To do such India found AL as the most trustee political party of Bangladesh and historically AL proved itself as the best friend of India. However another colossal political party, BNP, was not out of Indian influence and it also attempted to win the heart of India. But Zia-ur-Rahman ,the founder of BNP, from the early period of his govt. was willing and made strong and effective relations with Muslim States which bore good result with the help of Arab Countries specially Saudi Arabia helps and donates in a famine and natural calamities torn Bangladesh. This type of relations were also sustained by latter BNP led govt. but AL propagated such type of relations as “Anti Indian Sentiment and Activities “of BNP and termed also Pro-Pakistani ideology. India also did not take BNP as a trust worthy party rather considered it as a political party whose ruling means Islamization in Bangladesh.
In spite of prior mentioning about the reason and reality of BNP’s organizational power, the next scenario will provide its condition living in fool’s paradise. In 2012, BNP chairperson visited to Delhi and received much more respect, decorum, propriety from different segments of chief political parties. It is natural for any mainstream political party leaders but BNP regarded it as pre-respect for future premier Begum Khaleda Zia. Ironically BNP totally failed to catch the ruse of India and could understand fully in last part of 2013 with the visit of the then Indian foreign secretary Sujata Singh but it was too late. At last AL arranged election and won the pull completely with the vindication of Sonia-Manmohan led Congress govt. of India which is open secret to all. India also did it too get further “Mowka” unconditional facilities, services from long reliable chum AL. In mid 2014, Lokshoba election also held in India and there was seen a possibility to be elected by current Prime Minister Narendra Modi. BNP granted the matter as another chance to eject AL govt. because AL was historically and ideologically consistent with Indian National Congress not Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Ultimately BJP outplayed in the Lokshoba pull and Narendra Modi became the premier of India. BNP then was more busy in day dreaming to evict AL by the help of BJP and Modi  or by its silence, no attempt to save AL as it does not warmed relational or consentaneous ideological with AL. So, without thinking latter reality and Indian political history, BNP was busy with the celebration of BJP’s conquering. I was totally astonished seeing BNP’s sweet offering to each other for BJP victory. I think BNP should now re-understand India. Because India and it’s any political party’s main objective is to secure national interest and place itself as at least a regional power. Bangladesh is very important to serve such Indian interests and AL is the main server without any hesitation. So, why Modi will approach BNP against AL? Besides AL’s help and activities to resist ULFA and repatriation of various insurgents and quislings to India was truly and thoroughly examined by BJP and Modi. On the other hand AL govt. also has already sent various lubricous and alluring gratuity and promises to BJP led India so that it can sustain power. From various promises one of making Hindu chief Justice in Bangladesh which has also materialized. Besides Modi-Hasina greetings and phone calling even about cricket match show that AL is with a greater tie with BJP than Congress. Moreover passing the land border dispute settlement bill in Indian Parliament after long 44 years imply that Modi is totally reluctant to make AL rigid rather trying best to keep it as testified friend to face greater problems and obtain great power image. Now the time is for BNP for learning the real politics.po8
Overall scenes and steps regarding Bangladesh’s political instability, lack of accountability and democratic practices taken by UN, EU are totally near to rhetoric as they are brief making body against any anomaly. But they are not willing or powerful to change the regime or call for new election. USA despite having power but won’t intervene on Bangladeshi matter which will hamper Indian plans, policies and interests as it needs India to beat china. The other is India who has a more powerful image to do impact on Bangladesh politics, will not create obstacle to AL for its betterment. Now the term is for main Opposition party, with public support and acceptability in spite of outside the parliament, to consider its position. BNP as a big party and ruled also Bangladesh various times have to understand the circumstance and try utmost level to improve its institutional strength rather than appealing others help to eradicate AL. Only public involvement, picking public issues, distresses and problems in frontline with strong internal strength by both student wing and leaders and diplomatic persuasion BNP can bring back democracy and its power in Bangladesh. Otherwise no one will come to give back the throne to BNP or its allied parties especially Jamatee Islami before 2041.

The writer is specialist in International Relations, International Politics, Diplomacy and Security