IT IS hardly expected in Bangladesh’s prevalent ruling-class political culture that the incumbents, while presenting the list of their ‘success stories’, would also admit their failures in meeting the public pledges made earlier. The prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, was no exception on Friday when she addressed the ‘nation’ on completion of nine years of her party’s rule and four years of her successive second term in government. The prime minister, as usual, presented before the people a huge list of development programmes that have been carried out over the period, asserting that the non-Awami League governments of the past was good for nothing while admitting no failures of the League government.
However, some of the League programmes are really good, particularly those relating to the social safety of the helpless poor, but there are serious allegations of corruption involved in the process of the implementation of those programmes. Again, the building of infrastructures is indeed an essential condition for economic development, which her government has rightly been implementing, but the unusually higher costs reportedly suggest huge financial corruption of the implementation authorities. The prime minister has not uttered a single word about the devastating development in the banking sector, which has taken place primarily because of the plundering of public money by those related to the power circles of the ruling party.
Extrajudicial murders of crime suspects by the law enforcement agencies, enforced disappearances of the government’s political opponents, police brutalities against oppositional politics, degradation of overall educational standard, the gagging of the democratic freedom of expressions of the citizens by various means, legal and extralegal, extortion by the ruling party activists, partisan control of the administration, price increase of essential commodities, deterioration of law and order, et cetera have taken place in contradiction to what the ruling Awami League had promised nine years ago. None of these points surfaced in the prime minister’s speech on Friday.
What, however, appeared alarming in her speech was the iteration of her party’s stand about holding the next general elections under the supervision of the political incumbents — nationally contentious issue that remains the prime source of cold political impasse since the unilateral change of the constitutional provision for holding polls under an election-time, non-party government. This is the issue that kept all the political parties in opposition camp out of the electoral process in 2014, depriving the incumbents of political legitimacy to run the affairs of the state for the past four years. Moreover, it is due to the lack of political consensus on the nature and composition of the election-time government that the country’s political scenario has been suffering uncertainty, if not instability, which is a major impediment towards investment and growth in the real sense.
Under the circumstance, it is important that the incumbents realise the importance of recognising the political, economic and managerial failures and take appropriate steps to address the menaces generated out of the failures. On top of all, it is high time that the Awami League leadership realised that it is important to initiate a political process for reaching a ‘national consensus’ on the election-time government, for politicking about the issue any more might well prove to be counterproductive for all concerned.
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