Most political parties in Bangladesh remain at a distance away from actualising the spirit of Bangladesh’s liberation war and thus meeting people’s aspiration for a discrimination-free society even after 50 years of independence, said politicians and experts.
They accuse political parties of failure to address the people’s hope of building a society based on equality as well as of ensuring voting rights and establishing democratic institutions by reducing the social, political and economic discrimination in the past 50 years after independence.
They said that instead of going forward with an aim to establish a democratic polity, it has gone backward in many areas.
During the nine-month-long war, the leaders of the country had dreamed of a Bangladesh where there would be ‘an orderly and just government’, which would ensure people’s equality, the human dignity of all social classes and social justice, they said referring to the Proclamation of Independence.
Though the size of the economy of the country has grown the economic disparity between the rich and the poor has increased greatly, they added.
Former Dhaka University professor Abul Kasem Fazlul Huq told New Age that level-headed leadership has disappeared since independence and politics gradually hit the nadir over the past few decades.
‘The promises of democracy, elections and economic equality enshrined in the constitution were largely ignored by the political parties,’ he said, adding that for this reason the parties failed to meet the people’s expectations, thereby veering away from the spirit of 1971 liberation war.
He said that both ruling and opposition parties had failed to carry out their duties with honesty and sincerity. ‘To secure their own benefits, political parties misused the democratic institutions breaching norms,’ he added.
Former caretaker government adviser and governance campaigner M Hafizuddin Khan said that political parties have failed to uphold the spirit of the liberation war.
‘The country now passing a chaotic time as there is no democracy, no rule of law, no justice and no economic security,’ he said, adding that the country’s economic health has become good gradually but at the same time the gap between the rich and poor continued to grow at an alarming pace.
He said that subsequent governments of the country failed to make the democratic institutions, including the parliament and the Election Commission, remain independent from political and other undue external influence. As a result, people are deprived of their voting rights and the people’s rights will not be realised without a massive reform of the system as well as a change in politics.
Ruling Awami League presidium member Abdul Mannan Khan said that the progress of Bangladesh’s politics had faced a serious obstacle after the killing of the country’s founding president Sheikh Mujibur Rahman along with most of his family members on August 15, 1975.
He said that it is true that the political parties have not succeeded in fulfilling the people’s expectations in the past 50 years, but it is also true that there was no limit to people’s expectations.
He said that AL is trying to uphold the principles of independence. ‘But sometimes the political process vanishes for some people who capture power through the backdoor,’ he added.
He claimed that the country is now on a proper track under the leadership of prime minister Sheikh Hasina.
Opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party standing committee member Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain said that political parties have failed to make the country a democratic one in the past 50 years after independence.
In the absence of democracy, ruling parties are grabbing everything abusing their power in a wholesale manner, he said, adding that the political parties seriously failed to address the economic and social discriminations while it was one of the main motivations behind the liberation war.
Because of the absence of democracy, people who are involved in looting and grabbing are dominating politics, he added.
‘Though I would say that the politics have not failed us totally, but it is certainly true that political failure is the main reason behind the destruction of every democratic institution,’ he said.
He said that the incumbent government has established an autocratic rule and is using everything in the interest of the party.
Communist Party of Bangladesh president Mujahidul Islam Selim said that most political parties in Bangladesh failed to operate in alignment with the spirit of independence as they do politics against the spirit of the country’s founding principles.
In 50 years of the country’s birth, the ruling parties including Awami League and BNP failed to establish the democratic institutions so essential a part of a modern state, he said.
Bangladesh is still crying for equity and a non-communal society, he said, adding that different governments have turned Bangladesh into a satellite state of dominant foreign countries.
He said that ensuring the spirit of independence will not be possible without another mass revelation as the abolition of the existing system is the only way to solve the problems.
Governance experts believe that the independence of democratic institutions is imperative. When the chief election commissioner and other election commissioners are appointed in consideration of their proximity to the ruling parties or previous contributions to the parties, the democratic polity would remain a far cry.
They said that the key positions of the constitutional or statutory bodies are fulfilled by persons of the pro-ruling party people and as a result the main problems still remain unaddressed.
People are still experiencing serious social discrimination including in the education and health sectors, they pointed out.
Economic decimations are also a major reason behind the social and economic deprivation as earning and wealth gap between the poor and rich people are gradually increasing in the country, they observed.
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