The BNP can score more points by joining the informal meeting than what it has achieved in organizing the human chain programmes
Shamim A. Zahedy
While ‘politics is an art of compromise’, any tête-à-tête leads to bridging gaps between bickering parties, and rejecting any scope or opportunity of meeting opponents even over a cup of tea does not help as what has happened in the case of BNP-led Jatiya Oikyafront. The Jatiya Oikyafront right away declined Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s invitation to exchange greetings over tea slated for February 2, 2019 at Ganabhaban, the official residence of the prime minister. Separate invitation cards were sent to all steering committee members of the alliance including Dr Kamal Hossain, Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, ASM Abdur Rab and Mahmudur Rahman Manna.
Ruling Awami League sent the invitation to the political parties and alliances with whom the prime minister had sat for a dialogue before the December 30, 2018 election. Gono Forum, a component of the Jatiya Oikyafront, in an impromptu reaction said there was no question of accepting the invitation as no agenda for the programme was set. “There is no agenda in the invitation letter. We do not want to attend the programme for tea only and exchange greetings after a farcical national election,” Gono Forum Executive President Subrata Chowdhury was quoted as saying.
Some BNP leaders in a guarded voice said that they saw no reason to join the greeting-exchange meeting over tea as the prime minister did not keep her promises given during the political dialogue before the December 2018 election.
In their formal reaction, Oikyafront spokesman and BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir has said they are not joining Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s tea party.
The BNP and its alliance partners may have hundred of reasons for not joining the 11th parliament, for turning down the election results just after the voting, and demanding reelection under a neutral administration to establish what they call a pro-people government, but negative responses to an informal meeting or a courtesy call only send wrong signals to Bangladesh’s already spoiled political system.
In the awkwardly strained settings, BNP and its friends might put forward a logic that joining the tea invitation will legitimize ruling Awami League’s stance of refuting the demand for reelection and weaken their claim that they were defeated with unfair means. But the opposition parties can capitalize this meeting to push forward their demand and keep themselves in the news.
The BNP can score more points by joining the informal meeting than what it has achieved in organizing the human chain programmes, where the party leaders are saying they will publish a “white paper” on the allegations of ‘rigging and irregularities’ during the election.
In the human chains and friendly seminars, the BNP leaders are also claiming they are collecting ‘evidence of malpractice’ from national polls candidates. Party insiders have also said so far over 100 defeated BNP candidates have sent allegations of ‘electoral malpractices’ to the BNP central office at Naya Paltan. These include ‘stuffing of ballots’, ‘driving away their polling agents’, and ‘obstructing voters’ during the just concluded parliamentary elections.
The BNP can even raise these issues in the informal meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, although it is so far called a tea party, meaning that subjects of serious matters are not on the agenda.
Rightly, Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader has said there could be some talks with BNP and Jatiya Oikyafront representatives if they join Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s invitation to exchange greetings over tea. “It’s not a session for formal talks; it’s for exchanging greetings. However, if they join the programme, there could be some talks during the interval. But the way they reacted to the PM’s invitation is undemocratic,” media quoted Quader as saying.
By not responding to the prime minister’s courtesy call, BNP and its allies are rather offering opportunities to Awami League and its partners to criticise them. “It’s negative politics. That’s why they have been rejected by the people,” said Quader already.
In the vicious political scenario of Bangladesh, personal relationship between the politicians of opposing camps is appallingly poor: they even do not tend to see one another at burial programmes.
It is now imperative that the politicians make the best use of informal opportunities of meeting one another whenever they arrive. Without delay and, at least in this case, without giving little thought to the future, they should make the most of the present time. Politicians, think carpe diem.
First appeared : 1 February, 2019 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 1 February, 2019 12:56:52 AM