Since the birth of Bangladesh, no political party has stayed in power for three terms consecutively. Bangladesh`s democracy still needs to travel a long way to get matured. The wind of change still stirs the political perspective of the world’s largest democratic country, India. Modi’s BJP won in Tripura by overpowering the 25-year old left government who won only 15 seats. German Chancellor Angela Merkel herself disagrees to call her victory a victory. Despite the sky-high popularity of Barack Obama, the voters of United States did not want his administration for the third time. Quite the opposite, they chose a lunatic person Donald Trump as their president.
Therefore, the wind of change is stirring world politics. The citizens and voters want change in the leadership. So, prior to the general election of the country, a question pops up, can Awami League (AL) do it a third time?
The country has stumbled on several occasions since its birth. It happened between December 16, 1971 and August 15, 1975. We have been under civilian rule for three and half years only. Then came the 16 years of military rule of dictators and occupiers under the mask of democracy.
Ziaur Rahman took over the power pointing guns at the people. Same did his successor Hussain Muhammad Ershad. Before Ziaur Rahman seized power, the throne of Bangladesh was like a musical chair. Ershad also paused for a while before crushing democracy under his stiff military boots. Subsequently, in 1990 the Ershad regime was brought down which paved the way for democracy.
Between 1990 to 2001, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party and Awami League came to power conversely. No party remained in power more than two terms in one continuous period. BNP boycotted the general election of 2014 assuming if they do not join the election, the government would fall just like their government fell in 1996. BNP invited the caretaker government in 2007 with the interest of staying in power for another term.
On the other hand, AL remains in power despite an imperfect election and have made a record to remain in power for two consecutive terms. Ershad occupied the power for 9 years, but there was no satisfaction. It has been an illegal government as per constitution from 82 to 86. The parliament of 86 did not last long. Also, the parliament of 88 could not fulfill the full tenure. In view of this, if AL completes the present tenure, it will create a new record of remaining in power for two consecutive terms. However, AL does not think that the general election of 2014 was flawless. Therefore, AL wants to win this election through contesting.
There are some practical issues remaining in power. Many people have a long list of requirements and that list cannot be met. As a result, the public dissatisfaction increases and the ruling party loses its popularity very quickly. Sometimes the party becomes insolent which makes the party unpopular. And corruption devours all the achievements of the government.
If truth be told, AL has issues in all these areas. Judging the sentiment of the general mass, it requires no expert to comprehend the fact that the popularity of AL is declining with time. This gives BNP the confidence to declare that they would win if the election is held in a free and fair manner.
However, if we look back at the history, we will see that leaders who emerged as national leaders transcending the party, remained in power for a long time. Angela Merkel in Germany had been in power only for her clear image. Jyoti Basu, the former Chief Minister of West Bengal, served in power from 1977 to 2000. Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has gained enough support to be sure of remaining in power for a long term. There might be a debate on whether AL has lost its popularity but there is no debate on the popularity of the party president Sheikh Hasina. She has emerged as the leader of the Bengalees. Regardless of party, people and enemies- who plotted the 21 August
grenade attack to kill her- acknowledge her prudence and discretion. On one hand, she is a tough ruler as she did not step back from executing the death sentence of war criminals like Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury or jailing corrupt Khaleda Zia. On the other hand, she cries with them who are in distress. She often forgets about her daily meal while working for the nation. From her tight schedule she also enjoys passing heavenly time playing with children at her leisure. She is a complete and perfect person and a leader as well. Because of her, AL dreams of coming to power for the third time.
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