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Counting the wrong votes

  • Published at 01:42 pm November 2nd, 2014

We are not able to come out of the poisonous cycle of a bipolar equation. If the BNP fails to amass opinions that matter for holding a mid-term election, the Awami League survives in office. As the power structure has not been threatened, the diplomatic status quo remains. Since everything is under the control of the coercive state, why do the people expect fresh voting?

For our own contentment, we must ignore the issue of deficiency in popular legitimacy. The harsh reality is that the AL is holding power. Who is BNP here? Taking advantage of the incumbency, the premier is representing Bangladesh everywhere. So, life is fine for “her people,” if not for all, in a manipulated democracy.

Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury’s victory in the election to the Common Parliamentary Association, and AL lawmaker Saber Hossain Chowdhury’s to the Inter-Parliamentary Union, presented the government’s beneficiaries a belated occasion to celebrate the victory without the ballot proper on January 5, 2014. They claimed the global partners recognised the 10th Jatiya Sangsad and the popularity of the AL government.

It’s a breaking story – public representatives of other countries, be they elected or not, have been given the responsibility to measure and announce the result of how popular a government in Dhaka is. The voting rights of our people no longer stand valid in that case.

What a “kangal” of democracy a party, that once boasted of the politics of the ballot, has been, losing confidence in the people. It forgets that the cabinet or a lawmaker represents Bangladesh, not the party. It lacks the understanding that a foreign government, despite reservations, doesn’t suspend all communications with an unpopular regime unless there is a clear resolution in that regard.

Desperate to prove the international support behind it, the AL fails to notice that most governments didn’t accept the January 5 election. Instead, they recommended a dialogue between political parties to hold a participatory election. But keeping eyes away from criticism of their very legitimacy, they only express joy when others allow them to visit their countries.

The AL's men didn’t take insult from the government’s maltreatment abroad. Dhaka doesn’t bother with the failure to resume export of manpower after the premier’s visit to the United Arab Emirates or her one-on-one meeting with US President Barack Obama during the UN General Assembly session. The Hasina regime pays no heed to the Downing Street statement, or the one from the UN secretary general reminding it of the need for a credible ballot.

When critics say the prime minister is out to hold a photo session with world leaders, is there no element of truth, given the tendency to sell such photos through the domestic media to fool the people at home? We, as citizens, don’t feel very honoured to see the disgraceful approach of our leaders in front of other nations.

Such a morally-bankrupt government doesn’t hesitate to use the trump card of Islamophobia even at the cost of the image of the country. This has probably gifted the AL the most advantageous position, especially when its political rival BNP was being criticised for forming an alliance with parties that use Islam politically. AL’s well-wishers know there are fanatic enthusiasts who would love to suppress democracy in the name of combating Islamist forces.

In the process, it is the people who are being undermined most, with no respect shown to their will, dignity, or interests. A government which is supposed to uphold national prestige abroad is using all means to exploit the state apparatus for its own existence. Such a government’s strategic or tactical advantage in the international arena turns out to be harmful for the people.

What could be the sublime objective of clinging to power in this way? Pro-AL intellectuals can help us understand the greatness of the illegitimate authority, maybe, for the fear of repercussion to the excesses committed by the AL men following the misuse of power.

It is, thus, impossible for this kind of regime to present good governance and public welfare. In the current pattern of governance, Sheikh Hasina has no other option but to tolerate corruption even at the lowest echelon of the administration. She also has to appease any foreign players.

Yes, all the prime minister’s “yes men” can still relish the AL’s advantage for being in the driver’s seat of power, no matter how they capture it or how others look at their reckless driving. Foreigners are either with them or at least give de facto recognition to their stay in power.

As the regime has no popular base at home, those who are governed by it cannot enjoy any advantages abroad. The distance between the government and the people in pursuing domestic and foreign policies may prove to be dangerous in the course of time. 

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