THE president of the Workers’ Party, Rashed Khan Menon, who became a member of parliament having contested the December 2018 national elections with the symbol of boat of the Awami League, has said that he could testify that people could not cast their vote in the national elections. Rashed Khan Menon, at the inauguration of the party’s district unit conference in the Ashwini Kumar Town Hall in Barishal on Saturday, further said that people could not even cast their vote in the elections to union and upazila councils. What he has said has not hitherto been unknown. Newspapers and television channels, not all of them though, amply reported, at the election-time and after, on the ballot stuffing, even the night before polling, booth capturing, voter obstruction and the intimidation of polling agents working for candidates outside the Awami League and its allies. The Transparency International, Bangladesh in the middle of January came up with an election monitoring report that corroborated media reports. Even the voting statistics with implausible figures that the Election Commission made public towards the end of June lend credence to what the media reported after the elections. Yet, Rashed Khan Menon deserves thanks for acknowledging the problems that none from the Awami League or its allies has so far done.
Rashed Khan Menon has also said that the government, presided over by the Awami League, has killed democracy in the name of having carried out development. He has said that development does not mean democracy being snatched, dissent being stifled, the freedom of expression being taken away and democratic space being constricted. Having made such remarks now entails a moral responsibility for Rashad Khan Menon to resign his membership of the parliament to prove that he believes in what he has said about, primarily, the national and other local government elections. In the party’s district unit conference, he has also said that his party and he have always been vocal against injustice and misdeeds and would continue to play the role that he has done by giving voice to what he feels about the elections. Elections under the tenure of the Awami League, especially the 2018 elections, with poor voter response and poor candidate participation are said to have taken away the competition of the elections, leaving the affair to be unrepresentative. This is, in turn, unlikely to hold the representatives who are thus elected accountable to the electorate and is highly likely to reduce the overall civility in the government. All this, in turn, appears to have disenfranchised society, which is ominous for the political culture of the country.
Rashed Khan Menon, under the circumstances, should resign from the parliament and start working, within the ambit of the ideology of his party and along with other like-minded political parties and leaders, to restore the right to franchise that people have lost by way of such disenfranchising elections, national and local government, the rightful character to the electioneering process and a healthy culture to the country’s politics.
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