Predicting Election 2014 in Bangladesh is difficult

BangladeshBy- Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury | Date- August 21, 2012

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If there is not any unpredictable situation, the next general in Bangladesh will take place some time in March 2014, as the current leftist-Islamist coalition government led by Bangladesh Awami League will finish its tenure exactly on January 8, 2014 and preparations for the next general election will begin from that time. As the current ruling party is at the edge of rolling towards end of this tenure, its acceptability and popularity is on fastest decline and even seasoned political pundits are failing predicting the outcome of the next general election, though certainly understand a massive defeat for the leftist-Islamist coalition government led by Bangladesh Awami League. On the other end, Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) led alliances, the only possible option, which would expectedly form the next government is gradually losing the confidence of the people and also are almost on the verge of political bankruptcy. Leading party of this alliance, BNP even failed to select its secretary general in more than three years as it is still run by an acting secretary general. It is rumored that the supreme command of BNP has been unable in appointing Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir ad the full-fledged secretary general of the party due to extreme opposition within the party itself. There is also rumor of heavy race inside the party for grabbing this post of secretary general. Such races are backed by few extremely influential figures in BNP, including few of the Standing Committee. Few of them are even trying to stage a coup within the party to remove Begum Khaleda Zia from the post of chairperson.

Sensing this uncertainty for the two major parties from forming the next government in Bangladesh, policymakers in India have already started looking for an alternative. They invited former military dictator and leader of pro-Islamist Jatiyo Party to New Delhi and held series of talks with him to find any way of at least ensuring a pro-Indian government in Bangladesh after the next general election. General (Retired) Hussain Mohammad Ershad, who openly proclaim himself as someone liked by Indian RAW has been dreaming to re-grabbing power since he was ousted through mass movement in 1991. He has been telling few of his close aides within the party that New Delhi has already signaled of installing his party in power during the next general election and according to his forecasts; Jatiyo Party may receive substantial financial help from India for success in 2014. Some others feel, Ershad was invited (actually summoned) in India for becoming the running mate of Bangladesh Awami league in the next general election if the coalition led by Bangladesh Nationalist Party refrain from joining the electoral run as the next election may not be held under a neutral caretaker government. They gave two options to Ershad, which include either forming the government if can beg required seats of make him the next President, if he will help Bangladesh Awami League in forming the government. Ershad has visibly begged to be in power even just for a single time, and he has pledged to fulfill every demand of New Delhi is put into power. He even promised allowing Indian military vehicles moving towards North-East by using Bangladeshi land. The former military dictator even reminded the Indian policymakers that his forefather were from India and in reality he is more and Indian than Bangladeshi.

Following the visit of General (Retired) Hussain Mohammad Ershad to India, at least one report from the intelligence to country’s top policymaker said, even if Ershad receives financial backing from India, his party will not be able getting more than 15 seats in the next general election, as the overall image of Ershad is now totally shady to majority of voters in Bangladesh, while most of the leaders and possible candidates of Jatiyo Party are either extremely corrupt or are seriously incapable in winning the hearts of the voters. Moreover, they predict a massive setback for Jatiyo Party in the next election as its fate is not joined with that of the other partners of the Bangladesh Awami League led coalition government, since Ershad’s party is also in this government. Another report from the same organization to the Indian top policymaker earlier predicted a huge defeat for Bangladesh Awami League led coalition in the election in 2014, if held under the caretaker government, where the total number of possible seats for the entire alliance would not cross 36. It predicted a huge rise in the number of seats for Islamist parties in Bangladesh, including Jamaat-e-Islami.

While Indian intelligence agencies are forecasting a huge defeat for Bangladesh Awami League led Islamist-leftist alliance, some influential intelligence agencies in the West are even seeing no hope of any election in 2014, especially when the issue of holding the election under a caretaker government has become mission impossible following the verdict of retired Chief Justice of Bangladesh Supreme Court, Khairul Haque. It may be mentioned here that, justice Haque submitted the full verdict in writing months after his retirement, which is already termed a void and illegal by many of the eminent law and constitution experts in Bangladesh. They said the judgment of a retired judge has no legal effect at all. On the other hand, the government has kept the texts of the full judgment of Justice Khairul Haque in top secrecy and has not yet disclosed the contents to the people or even to the members of the parliament, which again is seen as a huge violation of the constitutional provisions of Bangladesh. It was rumored that Justice Khairul Haque had recommended holding of the next two general elections under the caretaker government, while the ruling party already made the 15th amendment in the Bangladesh Constitution stating none of the future elections in Bangladesh can be held under any “unelected government”, which means, it has stopped the doors for any future election under a caretaker government. The very concept of this constitutional amendment was proposed by few of the leading figures in Bangladesh Awami League, which include minister without portfolio Suranjit Sen Gupta, MP, law minister Barrister Shafiq Ahmed, state minister Advocate Kamrul Islam etc. These figures had been visibly pressing the top most figures in the party and the government in accepting the concept of passing the 15th amendment to the constitution to ensure Bangladesh Awami League to be in power at least until 2023. In their argument, they even said, series of failures and misrule of the coalition government led by Bangladesh Awami League has already narrowed the minimum hope of its returning to power in next general election, if it is held under a caretaker government. They also alerted massive repression by the next government on each and every member of Bangladesh Awami League and its coalition members, as most of the opposition forces of the ruling party are already angered due to series of extreme repressive actions. They also said Bangladesh Awami League will be put into maximum criticism by the opponents for behaving like an agent of India by sacrificing the interests of Bangladesh in various issues.

Though the ruling party elites became confident of remaining in power indefinitely following the 15th amendment of the constitution, gradually they also are becoming concerned as the international community has categorically signaled of not accepting any election, which would not be participated by all the political parties in Bangladesh. It is even feared by the policymakers of the ruling coalitions that, even if the next election is held as per blueprint and Bangladesh Awami League remains in the office, country’s export trade will face severe setback if international community would take any drastic action for lack of democracy and human rights in Bangladesh. Some of them are even frustrated in thinking the end of the rule of the Islamist-leftist coalition government led by Bangladesh Awami League by December 2013. Under such circumstance, many of them are even taking secret preparations of fleeing Bangladesh hours within the end of the current tenure.

Meanwhile, mid-ranking officials with at least two of the sensitive intelligence agencies in the country are secretly collecting information and evidences against more than one thousand leading figures in the ruling coalitions as well as those whoa re directly benefited by the people in power. These intelligence officials are contacting activists and supporters of Bangladesh Nationalist Party and other opposition forces in United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Australia, Middle East, Malaysia and Singapore for collecting scoops and evidences on corruption, nepotism and laundering of huge sum of money by these people. These officials are also preparing a list of these suspects, which might be sent to country’s immigration check-points, if the current government will be finally forced to handover power to the caretaker government or if the anti-government movements reach its extreme peak. It is even apprehended that, all such scoops and evidences on the corruption, nepotism and money laundering by the beneficiaries and leaders of the ruling elites would be secretly leaked to local and international media from the beginning of 2013, which would surely put the current government into extremely awkward position and even political jeopardy.

Writer is the Editor of Weekly Blitz newspaper in Bangladesh.

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