DIALOGUES spanning a week focused on the next national elections between the incumbents and the parties in opposition have officially ended. But they have failed to get anything going in the process. In the dialogues, first on a broad scale and then on a small scale, with opposition alliances and political parties, the incumbents, so far standing their ground on holding the elections the way they want under the incumbent government, repeated what they had so far said in public spaces. The parties and alliances in opposition, so far pushing for the dissolution of the parliament, the resignation of the government and an election-time, party-neutral government, also repeated what they had so far said in public spaces. While both the sides blamed each other for such a situation and the ‘dialogues’ have, thus, failed to advance the points in contention, it has became evident that ‘talks’ on a smaller scale are likely to continue.
The dialogues that have taken place have come out merely as the semblance of dialogues as neither of the parties involved was ready to make any concession and compromise. Dialogues become meaningful only when the both the sides involved in the process shrug off their rigidity and concede to the other side to some extent, even if unwillingly in the greater interest, and fight out a win-win situation. This has, sadly, not happened in the case at hand. But for some small decisions, such as the postponement of a road march towards Rajshahi by the National Unity Front and the government’s allowing the parties and alliances in opposition to hold political programmes, contentious issues have remained contentious. Again, it is a constitutional right of the opposition to hold political programmes in a peaceful and democratic manner. And this is in no way something for the incumbents to agree to. Only the incumbents have so far shown high-handedness in not letting the opposition to hold political programmes.
The incumbents are also reported to have agreed to ensure a level playing field as the opposition parties have so far demanded. The proposition, which should be part of a democratic process and not something that the opposition should demand or fight out, has also not been reflected in the attitude that the incumbents keep showing towards their political opponents. They have left the National Unity Front to hold two rallies. But people on their way to attend the rallies in both the places also faced harassment, official and unofficial, by the government that is led by the Awami League-led coalition. Intimidation and the arrest of leaders and activists of the parties in opposition continue apace. The inaction of the Election Commission about such issues has left a level playing field still elusive for the opposition.
The electoral ‘dialogues’ have ended, with issues continue to be in ‘talks’ on a small scale between the incumbents and the parties in opposition. In a situation like this, citizens still look forward to a situation that both the incumbents, which have a greater responsibility being in the government, and the opposition fight out for the next general elections to be free, fair, credible and participatory, letting the citizens exercise their right to franchise in a meaningful way.
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