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What may happen on December 31 in Bangladesh?


What may happen on December 31 in Bangladesh?

Sohail Choudhury

Bangladesh is scheduled to hold the next general election on December 30. There are numerous speculations centering this election, where Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh (JIB) will fight a tough battle for returning to power after ten years. On the other hand, for the ruling Awami League, it will be the battle of survival as it would try to ensure its third consecutive term. Although, analysts belonging to the ruling party, as well as its leaders are expressing over-confidence of winning a third consecutive term, the ground reality may not be very much favorable for them. According to several surveys conducted by local and international bodies, more than 80 percent of the silent voters may vote in favour of BNP candidates. On the other hand, almost 95 percent of the alliance partners of the ruling party may even lose their security deposit.

During the December 30 general election, Awami League will lose a significant portion of Hindu votes for its recent romance with radical Islamist Hefazat-e-Islam (HeI), while almost none of the members of HeI – most of whom are madrassa students and teachers would cast their votes in favour of Awami League or its alliance candidates. Reason behind HeI members not voting in favour of Awami League is simple. They do not consider the ruling party as their natural allies. On the other hand, a number of influential HeI leaders such as Junayed Babunagari are silently working against Awami League and convincing their followers in voting in favour of BNP candidates.

Similarly, leaders of Hindu rights groups and the secularist forces in the country also are campaigning against Awami League because they consider Awami League’s romance with Hefazat-e-Islam and giving recognition to the Qawmi madrassa degrees as a clear betrayal.

During this election, India is totally silent while United States and China are becoming increasing vocal and active. United States is considering sending a huge group of election observers comprising over 500 members. At the same time, Jamaat-e-Islami leaders in the UK and the US are contacting major media outlets with the request of sending their representatives to cover the election. In some cases, Jamaat-e-Islami even is offering the transportation and lodging expenses.

Ruling Awami League has already been totally isolated from the international media, mainly because of extreme lethargy of the people responsible for looking into this area. Even some of the prominent figures and close aides (including editors and journalists) of the government are showing clear signs of negligence in even publishing or broadcasting positive contents in favour of the ruling party in their own media outlets. Many of them fear, publishing or broadcasting “too much” positive contents in favour of Awami League may put them into extreme difficulty if the ruling party fails to win the election. Some of them even are privately talking about a possible landslide victory by BNP led coalition.

Public perception in Bangladesh is – if the election is held in a free and fair manner, Bangladesh Nationalist Party led coalition will get more than 200 seats. On the other hand, most of the political analysts are seeing a certain extinction of pro-Islamist Jatiyo Party, which is led by former military dictator Hussain Muhammed Ershad.

According to political analysts, if BNP led coalition wins majority in the upcoming general election, leaders and members of Awami League and its coalition partners may come under attacks. There could even be total lawlessness in the country from December 31.

Blitz’s Editorial Board is responsible for the stories published under this byline. This includes editorials, news stories, letters to the editor, and multimedia features on BLiTZ

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