As the election date looms closer, the nation braces for the crucial decisions that will shape its political future.
Bangladesh’s next general election will be held on January 7 next, Chief Election Commissioner Habibul Awal said in a televised speech on November 15. The announcement came amidst heightened political tensions. The ruling Awami League (AL) is gearing up for the upcoming national elections, but the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalists Party (BNP) and its allies are still adamant to boycott the election demanding a polls-time caretaker government, which is unconstitutional.
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The BNP even boycotted a recent EC-hosted dialogue, declaring that they would not participate in any political discussion until the government resigns.
Instead, the leaders and activists of the party resorted to political violence in the name of enforcing hartal, blockade, burning and vandalizing public transports and properties. The political violence orchestrated by BNP during the last two weeks have already claimed the innocent lives of at least 11 people including a policeman and a journalist.
These ongoing blockade initiatives have led to widespread destruction of public properties, including the burning of more than 154 vehicles nationwide, and have disrupted vital supply chains, attributing to the recent escalation in prices of daily necessities.
Due to the adamant attitude of the party’s top leadership, numerous mid-level leaders and members of the BNP are now abandoning the party. On November 8, more than 600 leaders and activists from various political parties joined Trinamool BNP.
Awami League’s Strategy for Victory: Focus on Voter Turnout
On the other hand, with the aim of securing another overwhelming victory, the ruling Awami League remains steadfast in its pursuit of a robust voter turnout. Their comprehensive strategy involves rallying existing supporters, engaging beneficiaries of government programs, aiding vulnerable demographics, and conducting extensive door-to-door campaigns.
The success witnessed in recent local elections serves as a positive indicator for the impending national polls.
Youth unemployment takes center stage in Awami League’s upcoming election manifesto. The party’s focus is on creating job opportunities through the advancement of a technologically-driven Smart Bangladesh.
During a recent meeting of the AL’s manifesto drafting committee on November 5, the party assured to highlight key areas in their manifesto. These encompass the cultivation of an educated society, addressing economic challenges, poverty alleviation, fostering production-oriented industries, promoting inclusive development and good governance, enriching culture, all towards the aspiration of a prosperous and progressive nation.
BNP’s Movement Falters Without Public Backing
The BNP’s movement has faltered at the initial stage. There were prior assertions that the BNP would unveil a series of intense political programs in response to the announcement of the schedule. Some media outlets even hinted at the possibility of a non-cooperation movement. Yet, this recent course of action by the BNP underscores a glaring reality: without substantial public support, a rigorous movement turns into a futile endeavor.
The BNP never envisioned toppling the government solely through its own strength or with people’s backing. Instead, they anticipated the miraculous intervention of an external force against the Awami League-led government. Such signs have been surfacing over the past two years. A sense of dissatisfaction with the US government has lingered in the air during this period.
Global Powers’ Involvement in Bangladesh Elections Sparks Concerns
Global powers are actively involved in Bangladesh ahead of the elections, recognizing its importance in South Asia. Multiple countries, notably the USA, have intervened in Bangladesh’s internal affairs, raising concerns about their intentions. Despite endorsing free and fair elections, several high-ranking US officials’ alignments with the BNP has sparked questions about diplomatic conduct.
The government strongly opposes foreign interference in domestic politics, citing contradictions with the nation’s principles. India, China, and Russia have expressed support for Bangladesh’s democratic progress, opposing foreign intervention.
Concerns persist among Bangladeshi citizens that international entities are influencing the election process. Despite challenges, the Awami League, led by Sheikh Hasina, has maintained steadfastness in upholding constitutional election procedures.
In parliament, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina emphasized that an unelected government would never resurface in the country, urging citizens to stay vigilant against any attempts to create chaos and install such a government.
“Those who are dreaming of an unelected government in the country, please come out of this dream as it will never come true,” she said while addressing a farewell speech on completion of the 21st session of the 11th parliament.
“The reality is that whoever will get the people’s vote, will come to power and we have no objection to this end. Awami League has never interfered with that and will never do so,” she added.