Bangladesh election Rise of Hasina
It was a hectic day of election campaigning of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina ,71 year old daughter of Father of the bangladesh “Bangabandhu ” Sk Mujibar Rahaman. She had just concluded her two video conference from third floor of her private house “Sudahasadan ” situated at Dhanmandi, a posh locality of central Dhaka. ,The house was actually owned by her late husband Dr.M.A.Wajed Miah ,a nuclear scientists who had a dream to make Bangladesh a self-reliant on clean energy. After becoming second time Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina initiated to establish a neuclear power plant with help of Russia and India. Despite all opposition she decided to go ahead with the project . The determination of making Bnagladesh a strong nation made her known to be a strong leader. Now the result of 11th national election is out. She has come out to be as one of the strongest leader of the south –asia indeed.
She came down to drawing room at the second floor of the house to meet this Indian correspondent . No display of aristrocracy is seen in the room. Some simple sofa set and wooden table were kept casually around. Wearing a typical white and blue handloom Jamdani Sari, a symbol of Bengal’ s growing foreign currency earning textile industry she smiled.at me. After a day long hectic schedule and meeting with party workers till late at night she was looking quite fresh and confident. Are you not tired? she replied-” no. I get strength when I meet people. Its my source of energy”. You don’t have leisure time ? Smilingly said –’well this days I dont get leisure time. Otherwise I read books, listen to Rabindra sangeet. When my grandchildren come from abroad I had to cook for them. They are fond of my cooking. Now My son Jay and daughter Putul stay in Dhaka. My daughter’s son Bobby is also here. They are helping me in my job. “Her both daughter-in-laws are foreigners. But She told me they liked typical bengali food.
Due to cyclonic weather and to some extent for security concern. she has not been able to visit all 300 constituencies. She has started addressing gathering through video conferences from the house. When I asked her about this method of campaigning she said,” I had started this campaign from last General poll of 2014 ,but not to the extent of this time. Is this not a proof that Bangaldesh is now graduated to a digtally self reliant country? Even opposition parties are using this oppostunity. Now 3G and 4G are available in the rural side too. In a long 40 minutes chat I saw her confident enough about the election. She said,”I believe in my people. They know what’s is good for the country. ”
In fact her confidence came out to be true on the day of counting of election ,30 the December. . Out of 300 seats of the Parliament election was held on 299 seats. And Awami league got 257 seats. Their alliance partner Jatiya Party led by former President Hussain Mohammad Ershad came second with 22 seats and other alliance smaller parties got 9 seats. In a house of 300 ,Awami league with their alliance got whopping number of 289 seats. But Ershad’s party had contested in more than 140 constituencies agains Awami league candidates. In fact their votes helped Hasina to win all those difficult seats. It became three or four corner contest in more than 150 constituencies.
The opposition party, Known as Jatiyo Oikyo Front, an alliance of Ganaforum, newly created political party just few months before the national election led by a renowned Barrister and old time colleague of Sk Mujibar Rahaman, constitution maker, 82 years old Dr Kamal Hosain and Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), Kader Siddiqui of earswhile Muktibahini who fell out with Hasina and other smaller party. As BNP Chairperson Begum Khalda Zia was convicted on corruption charges and sent to jail and her Exiled son Tareq Rhaman who has also been convicted by Bangladesh court on corruption charges, now settled in London, Secretary General of the party Mirza Fakrul Islam Alamgir had to take charge of the election campaign. The banned Jamat-e-Islami, a pro-Pakistani islamic militant group, was also in the fray with the BNP election symbol paddy with sheads. Actually this presence of Jamat helped Hasina to campaign against them as they were known in the country as anti liberation forces.
There are many first thing happened in this 11th election .In Bangladesh election history never a Prime Minister won the election for three cosecutive term. Sk Hasina earned this laurel. In 1996 she was elected . Therefore she is first leader who is four time Prime Minister. In Bangladesh generally elections were held under a non partisan caretaker .Goverment. When Hasina came in to [power in 2008 she amended the constitution and election under non partisan caretaker Government system was abolished. Now the election is held under incumbent Government like India and many other countries.In fact in absence of a caretaker Government opposition BNP had boycotted 2013 general election and Awami league easily came into the power .that time.
But this is the first time that opposition parties participated in general election without the caretaker Government system ,though they had demanded earlier. Finally Sk Hasina convinced them for participating in the election. This was propagated as political success of Hasina by Awami League. Moreover the reason for participating in the election somewhat was compelling for the opposition. Bangladesh election laws says that if any political party does not contest for two consecutive terms their registration as political parties is automatically cancelled. Therefore BNP had no other choice but to contest in the election.
Reasons for sweeping victory of Awami League.
Winning of nearly 90% of Parliament seats in natural way raised certain question about the legitimacy of the election process. A section of Indian media and particularly western media blamed ruling Awami league for being undemocratic ,intimadating opposition and “autocratic ” functioning of the PM Hasina. But analysisng Bangladesh election through the prism of western media will be erroneous and detrimental to the security concern of the south asia and India in particular. The country which witnessed 19 times coup-d’ etat and imposition of emergency , imposition of a regiment backed by the Army after the assassination of the Bangbandhu immediately after three years of devastating liberation war , first time witnessed a democratic regime for continious ten years under the leadership of Sk Hasina. There might have been some mistakes and error or highhandedness by the ruling party in dealing with the people.But in larger concept stability of Bangladesh is beneficial to South Asia . Once Prime Minister Modi openly said, “Bangabandhu has created the country but Bangladesh is now safe in Sk Hasina’ hands. ” In this type of country where democracy is still in the making and stabilising ,a strong leader like Sk Hasina is the need of the hour. The leader who initiated War crime tribunal is known as unfinished task of the 71 liberation war. For that Hasina earned disrepute in western established and ignored those criticism amd went ahead with bringing all those criminal into justice. Minority community ,particularly hindus were soft target always in Bangladesh. During Khaleda Zia regime hindus had to face atrocities.
In Many places hindus are being attacked. Generally Jaamat loyalists are behind all these attacks. In some cases local A wami league cadres are also found to encourage fundanmentalists forces. But during SK hasina Government hindus feel more safe and they openly say that if BNP comes into power then they have no option but to leave the country. Recently published staticgtics show that population of hindus are on the rise in Bangladesh again. From 9 % it went upto 11%%.
It is worth mentioning that the famous DHAKESWARI temple was also under threat. But it was SK hasina who took initiative to clear all unauthorised occupation from the temple area. Her vist to temple during Durgapuja was well accepted by the Hindus and many Dhaka newspaper published that story with Photograph where PM Hasina offering prayer with folded hands like any other hindu devotee.
One should not forget still Jamaat in duisguise of forces of International islamic extrimist group with the backing of frustrated Rwalpindi-Islamabad establishment are ac tive and also getting support of Bangladesh political party ,thereby legitimising their existence in the society.They dont like bangladesh to go in a soveriegn way. On the other hand mighty China dragon is extending all its tentackles to grip Bangladesh for their own larger sisnister design. Therefore a regime which is freindly towards India with all historical linkages is always welcome for Indian establishments. It’s heartening to note that not a single Jamat candidate won this time in election. Even one Jamaat candidate got only one vote in his constituency.
The opposition BNP tried to mend ways with the Indian establishment . Its true that this time they didnt make India as elephant in the room. But their argument for having an alliance with banned Jamat for being having vote percentage of 7% fell flat. BNP leader Mr Mirza did meet Indian Highcommissioner Harsh Vardhan Sringla several times . But It was made them clear in no certain terms that India can not be seen with a force which are known for anti India terrorists activities.
In fact Awami League made it clear in their menifesto that Bangladeh soil will not be allowed to use for terrorists activities and against any neighbouring countries.Whereas BNP manifesto is totally silent on terrorism.
The Jatiyo Oikyo Front with BNP has given nomination to 30 banned Jamat islami candidate which made easier for Hasina to convert this election as second liberation war neutralising the effect of anti incumbancy.. Though more than two crores of population are young and who didnt see the liberation struggle they are still committed to the ideals of the liberation struggle. Bangladesh is only country in the world which was liberated for the honour of their bengali mother toungue. The society is still polarised between Bengali nationalism and Islamic nationalism. Sk hasina is working in balance in the society. Moreover a record growth of sustainable economy created aspirations among then people about future, They are at the threshold of becoming a developing nation which is recognised by the internatinal community. The human resource development is a model for all the poor country.
Success of Indian Diplomacy
.A word of praise for Indian diplomacy in Dealing with the Bangladesh is worth to be mentioned. Due credit should go to Prime minister Modi for persuing relentlessly a policy of maintaining freindship with the nearest neighbour. This is acknowlwdged by the PM Hasina when PM MODI was the first world leader to call her for congratulating. A section of diplomats and intellegencia suffering from so called “liberal democracy syndrome” was of the view that India is messing up in Bangladesh by putting all options in one busket. But thanks to PM Modi who ignored all this unsolicited advice and went by his able team of diplomats led by Harsh Bardhan Sringla and with the support of south Block created a new horizon of opportunities for the whole of land locked North east which could be pivotal for the success of this Government’s Act East policy. it will create a new opening with the south East asia which enhance overall growth for India by leaps and bounds and will make a win-win situation for both Bangladesh and India.
By Gautam Lahiri from Dhaka