Friday, July 1, 2011

Polls Must Be Held Under Caretaker Govt

The movement for the Caretaker Government system began in 1994. It was alleged by the opposition Awami League after the parliamentary by-polls at Mirpur and Magura that the then ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) was involved in vote rigging which proved that fair election under any party government was not possible. Mention may be made here that the people experienced the first vote rigging in the first general election of Bangladesh on March 7 , 1973 when the ruling Awami League (AL) rigged election. Worker's Party of Bangladesh President Rashed Khan Menon, MP, now partner of AL-led grand alliance government, Major (retd.) Abdul Jalil, Dr. Alim-Al Rajee, Engineer Abdur Rashid, Shahjahan Siraj and Mostaque Ahmed Chowdhury were defeated in that election, as reported in a Bengali daily dated June 12 , 2007.         Jamaat's brainchild    Jamaat-e-Islam was the first to advance the concept of non-party Caretaker Government (CG) which was the brainchild of Prof. Golam Azam for holding free and fair election. AL under the leadership of Sheikh Hasina enthusiastically took it up as their political issue. Former state minister for Foreign Affairs in AL cabinet Abul Hasan Chowdhury while addressing the plenary session of the ministerial conference on "Towards a Community of Democracy" in Warsaw held in 2000 , claimed that Sheikh Hasina's doctrine of Caretaker Government is being practised in Bangladesh, as reported in the media.    AL in league with Jamaat-e-Islam (JI) and Jatiya Party (JP) started a vigorous nationwide movement to establish the CG. Sheikh Hasina held series of meetings with Jamaat leaders Abbas Ali Khan, Moulana Motiur Rahman Nizami, Ali Ahsan Mujahid at her Dhanmondi residence at Road number 32. At that time Jamaat leaders were not war criminals. They enforced seventy days' hartal and 26 days' of blockade and non- cooperation movement during 1994-1996. Of them one 96 hours continuous hartal, two 72 hours and five 48 hours besides dawn to dusk hartal were enforced, as published in a Bengali daily on June 11 , 2011. News report said hartal damaged properties worth Tk. 250 crore per day in those days. People were harassed in many ways. Even a government official was stripped off on the road near the Curzon Hall of the Dhaka University.    Sir Ninian Stephens, former Governor General of Australia, was invited to resolve political issue in 1995. He held a series of meetings with political leaders both of ruling and opposition parties to democratise the country but with no effect.         15 killed, 600 injured    The AL boycotted the parliament and forced the BNP through reign of violence like blockade, hartal, gherao, destruction of properties both public and private, killing, burning of vehicles, agitation etc. to amend the Constitution for incorporating CG system. The Fifth parliament was dissolved and the BNP arranged for general election. The opposition parties boycotted election. The 6 th parliament was elected on February 15 , 1996 with only BNP which was said to be the farcical one-party polls. On the day countrywide hartal left 15 persons killed and 600 persons injured, as reported in a Bengali newspaper on June 11 , 2011. Then a parliament was formed where the 13 th amendment to the Constitution was passed for incorporating the provision of the CG system on the very line demanded by AL. So, the 'farcical' one-party polls had to be held to pass the CG bill.    The opposition continued their reign of violence. Some bureaucrats joined the 'Janatar Mancha' organised by AL. By doing this these bureaucrats turned the government officials and employees into servants of a political party.    AL won the first election held on June 12 , 1996 under the CG system but was defeated in polls of 2001. After the defeat AL had put strong and undue pressure on President Justice Shahabuddin Ahmed to cancel the election results and to hold fresh election. But Justice Shahabuddin Ahmed did not bow to their undue demand and pressure.    Kamal Hossain, T H Khan, Rafique-ul Haque, M Zahir, Mahmudul Islam, Amir-Ul Islam, Roklanuddin Mahmud and Ajmalul Hossain as amici curiae opined in favour of the CG system, but only M I Faruki spoke against it. The Supreme Court repealed the 13 th Amendment to the constitution that introduced the caretaker government but said the next two general elections could be held under unelected rulers.     Considering the present political hostility and mistrust among political parties polls under the CG system should continue as per observation of the Supreme Court that two more general elections be held under the CG system. Otherwise polls under the party government will cause a reign of violence for which the common people will have to suffer. Polls must be held under the CG system to avoid political turmoil.