Journalists and researchers from residence and overseas ask me what I anticipate from the ‘new’ authorities. What’s going to I say? What are my expectations? Naturally we don’t need the following authorities additionally to be run by forces that destroy rivers, hills, forests and communal concord. We wish the following authorities to deliver to justice the killers of Tawki, Tonu, Dipon, Niloy, Sagar, Runi and so many extra males, ladies and kids. We wish it to deliver a halt to the crossfire killings, the compelled disappearances, the unabated rape and sexual harassment on the streets.
We don’t need to see the ‘helmet forces’ and the ‘hammer forces’ getting used to silence protesting youth. We don’t need any environmentally dangerous tasks within the identify of improvement. We don’t need the Rampal undertaking that’s destroying the Sundarbans or the Rooppur nuclear energy plant undertaking that stands as a risk to the nation.
The federal government ought to actively get up towards communalism and racial hatred. The colleges, banks and all establishments have to be freed from sycophants and corrupt, inefficient components. Discrimination, injustice and the erosion of democracy can’t proceed within the identify of equality, justice, human dignity and all that the liberation battle stood for.
Is there any scope to anticipate all this from the ‘new’ authorities when that is precisely what the federal government in its earlier phrases promoted? How can we anticipate this from the federal government when the farcical election has merely additional empowered the financial institution looters, the drug dons, the killers of Tawki and others?
Over the previous yr or so, a sure diploma of enthusiasm had been generated over the election. However from just a few months earlier than the election, it grew to become clear that the federal government can be figuring out the election outcomes. Nevertheless, there have been variations over what outcomes the federal government would really show. It was assumed that the federal government would need to maintain a minimum of 200 seats for itself. They wouldn’t thoughts relinquishing the remaining 100 seats to their allies and the opposition.
The quite simple query that arises is, can an election be run on this method? How is it potential? It’s apparent that the matter had been fastidiously deliberate for fairly a while. PR companies and lots of native and international corporations labored on implementing this plan.
This work concerned a number of angles. Firstly, there was optimum use of all methods and means to spotlight the federal government’s success and likewise to level out that Awami League was indispensible for Bangladesh.
Secondly, on one hand the opposition was to be demonised, and on the opposite, it was to be obstructed from any type of motion. On one hand the rivals must face assaults, arrests and imprisonment, and on the opposite, the ruling quarters would step up their very own campaigning.
Thirdly, the media can be fully managed and monitored. All kinds of measures, reliable and illegitimate, had been to be adopted to make sure that TV discuss exhibits, newspaper studies, Fb , all went in favour of the federal government. The digital safety act was one such software.
Fourthly, the ruling occasion’s absolute management can be ensured in all establishments.
Fifthly, monetary incentives and different perks can be organized to broaden the ruling occasion’s assist base.
We noticed all of this throughout the marketing campaign interval, proper from the villages to the capital metropolis. The election fee talked a few stage taking part in discipline for all, nevertheless it was solely potential for the ruling occasion candidates to marketing campaign unhindered, no matter ‘caste, creed, faith, gender, political affiliation, age, and so forth.’ After the announcement of the election schedule, I solely noticed the ruling occasion processions and posters in my constituency. I heard their blaring songs, their piercing vuvuzelas and campaigning over the TV and radio.
I noticed and heard so many candidates outdoors of the ruling occasion being assaulted all around the nation, their campaigns being disrupted. Police went from home to deal with arresting leaders and occasion staff. There was a deluge of pretend circumstances. The administration and the police actively supported the ruling occasion candidates and so did the election fee. There are movies, and I’ve seen lots of them, the place the federal government officers at an area stage addressed public conferences of the ruling occasion, instructing the individuals to hinder any candidate apart from that of the ‘boat’ ruling occasion. They threatened dire penalties if the vote went anyplace else than the ‘boat’. For the ruling occasion, the election setting was festive and guaranteed, whereas the remaining had been in concern of assaults, arrests and threats.
The individuals of Bangladesh love to debate and debate politics. They’re all politically opinionated and keen to specific their views. When elections come round, it’s inevitable that such discussions and gatherings crop up everywhere, in tea stalls, on the native drugstore and such. Nevertheless it was completely different this time. There have been solely gatherings for the ‘boat’, however these too had been hardly vigorous in absence of any differing voice.
Essentially the most despicable incident occurred on the night time earlier than the election. Eye witness accounts, information within the media and written complaints reveal that in lots of centres the poll containers had been stuffed on the night time earlier than the polls. It’s alleged that 30 per cent of the votes had been thus forged prematurely in lots of the centres.
Secondly, rival candidates, their polling brokers, supporters and voters had been obstructed from coming to the polling centres. They had been assaulted, threatened and detained.
Thirdly, all all through the day, staff of the ruling occasion stamped the poll papers and crammed the poll containers. I noticed only a few voters turned up at my polling centre within the morning, hardly greater than 20 per cent the complete day. There have been simply ruling occasion posters and other people throughout. It was the identical in all of the polling centres of the neighborhood. There could have been eight or 9 candidates, however solely on polling agent in every of the centres.
From the outcomes it’s apparent that regardless of advance preparation by the federal government and the concerted efforts of the ruling occasion organisations, the election fee, the administration and the legislation enforcement companies, they couldn’t prohibit the victory to 200 or 220 seats as deliberate. They couldn’t even management the variety of votes for the ruling occasion. With everybody’s joint efforts, enthusiasm and exhausting work, the variety of votes and the variety of votes in favour of the ruling occasion, had been abnormally excessive. In such manipulations, many candidates of the opposition ended up with no votes in any respect in among the centres.
Did Awami League must go to such an extent to win the election? Given the measures taken prematurely and the monopolised campaigning, they might have received anyway with out such actions on the voting day. However all mentioned and completed, the ruling occasion was apprehensive about going through the individuals and so these scandalous incidents came about.
Such a one-sided election, utilizing all state energy to suppress the opposition candidates, doesn’t show the ruling occasion’s power. It proves, quite the opposite, the occasion felt extraordinarily insecure about contesting within the election. It’s a matter of query as to why such a robust occasion, with important public assist, was decreased to such a pitiful state of affairs.
Undoubtedly, after the 2014 election, this election has set a good worse precedent for the ruling occasion. Nevertheless, the federal government and the ruling occasion are hardly bothered. In any case, to the federal government and its companions at residence and overseas, energy is all that issues. There may be little or no consideration as as to whether the methods and means had been reliable or not, moral or unethical, or what the long run penalties shall be to the event of the democratic course of and establishments.
* Anu Muhammad is an economist and professor of economics at Jahangirnagar College. He could also be contacted at [email protected] This piece appeared in Bangla within the print model of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten in English by Ayesha Kabir