POLITICS has turned more volatile and confrontational over the last three years. People fear that possible political unrest ahead of the next parliamentary polls might erupt because of the sudden cancellation of the caretaker government (CG) system. Shakhawat Liton writes in The Daily Star.
The cancellation of the CG has already created a political stalemate as the BNP-led opposition parties have unequivocally announced they will not participate in the next parliamentary election if the CG system is not restored.
The opposition parties, as they have already declared, will make efforts to strengthen the anti-government street agitation in the coming days to have the demand realised.
The government and ruling AL policymakers in response keep rejecting the opposition camp’s demands, believing that the cancellation of the CG has outplayed their rivals as the party itself will remain in office during the next parliamentary polls.
And in defence of its political stance, the ruling AL may strengthen its efforts to counter the opposition on the streets. The face-off could lead to political violence in the coming days.
The way the ruling AL-led government unilaterally abolished the CG system in June 2011 was nothing but the outcome of the pervasive culture of confrontation in politics.
It rejected outright the demands raised by the opposition as well as a number of non-partisan eminent citizens for retaining the CG system in the interest of holding free and fair parliamentary elections.
The Supreme Court in May declared unconstitutional and void the provision relating to the CG system, but it also stated that two more parliamentary polls could be held under the system.
Government policymakers vehemently defended and relied on the verdict to reject the demand for retaining the CG system, although there was a controversy over the clarity of the apex court’s verdict.
The government action in respect of the cancellation of the CG and non-action on some other issues clearly makes a mockery of the ruling AL’s own electoral pledges to bring about changes in the culture of confrontation in politics, which has made parliament ineffective, hampered rule of law, and marred good governance.
In the wake of political violence on the streets in 2006 and 2007 centering around the ninth parliamentary polls, the AL in its electoral manifesto pledged that tolerance and decency would come into political culture and efforts would be taken to formulate a code of conduct acceptable to all.
The AL also pledged reforms for ensuring democratic practices within political parties, and promised to take all measures necessary to make parliament more effective.
But all pledges remain only on paper. The government has yet to make any move to implement the electoral pledges in order to bring about a qualitative change in political culture.
And as a result political culture has remained bereft of any change. Even the animosities between the two arch rival camps — AL and BNP — are on the rise on some fronts, contributing largely to a diminishing of hope for a political consensus among them about the mode of holding the next parliamentary polls after expiry of the incumbent government’s tenure.
Given the developing situation, New Year 2012 will mark the fourth year of the AL-led government in office. The government might not be able to offer anything pleasant in people’s political lives since the legacy of yesteryears’ political events is set to dominate the next political course.
The New Year may witness much heat in the political arena centering on the formation of the next Election Commission (EC) after the expiry of the incumbent EC in early February this year.
The formation of the new EC now appears to be much crucial after the cancellation of the CG that earlier took office after the expiry of a partisan government’s tenure and provided all support to the EC to hold parliamentary polls since1996.
So, the government’s any unilateral move to appoint people of its own choice as chief election commissioner and election commissioners may add fuel to the opposition parties’ street agitation.
In light of the bitter memories of political deadlocks the country has suffered in the past over EC-related controversies, people aware of political developments have already voiced concern about a further deterioration of the political situation.
The rival ruling and opposition camps may not be equally blamed for the unchanged political culture and for growing anxiety and fear in the public mind. But neither of them has demonstrated the political will necessary to initiate responsible and constructive politics in the last three years.
Instead, many senior leaders and MPs of both parties were seen uninterruptedly engaging in a war of words, even to the point of making derogatory remarks and exchanging tirades in and outside parliament, thus contributing largely to a polluting of the political atmosphere.
Thanks to the ruling party’s indifference to its own electoral promise of making parliament functional, the main opposition BNP seems to have opted for holding parliament hostage to its demands in order to make political gains.
They have been frequently boycotting the House, making it unable to function effectively. In so doing, the BNP has also ignored its electoral pledges made before the last polls to take tough measures to put a stop to the House boycott culture.
In brief, one can say that the way things are moving across the political landscape shows a similarity with the events that led to the declaration of a state of emergency in January 2007.
Still, solutions to all the problems lie in the ruling and opposition camps’ political will which is the driving force for change. And it is their political will that can offer people good news in the New Year, removing all anxiety from their political lives.