Bangladesh is on the way to free, fair and festive elections


Bangladesh is steering towards an impending electoral process set for January 7, 2024, aiming for a free, fair, and celebratory election. The journey, however, appears mired in complexities, with opposing parties steering varied agendas.

While opposition parties such as the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI), and Jatiya Party (JP) have outwardly advocated for a fair election, the recent announcement of the election schedule by Chief Election Commissioner Kazi Habibul Awal on November 16, 2023, has seemingly triggered intensified efforts from BNP and Jamaat-e-Islami to disrupt the process. Analysts observe these parties’ efforts as attempts to wrest power through non-democratic means, potentially transforming Bangladesh into a neo-Taliban state, considering their shared ideology against secularism and in favor of Islamization.

Notably, the historical roots of BNP and JP, founded by military dictators, along with Jatiya Party’s founder General Hussain Muhammad Ershad, who opposed Bangladesh’s independence war, add layers to this political tapestry.

In a bid to mediate, US State Department official Donald Lu urged dialogue between ruling Awami League and opposition parties, an initiative rejected by BNP and JP. Meanwhile, reports indicate clandestine activities from key figures like BNP’s Tarique Rahman and JP chairman GM Quader, allegedly pursuing power through unlawful methods. Quader’s reported engagements with the Pakistani ISI, advocating to curb Indian influence and transform Bangladesh into an Islamic republic upon returning to power, further add fuel to the political fire.

According to credible sources, while BNP’s acting chairman Tarique Rahman, a convicted terrorist on run is attempting to return to power through illegal means, JP chairman GM Quader too held secret meetings with several elements including Pakistani spy agency Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) with similar plots. Quader reportedly has requested Pakistani ISI to “save Bangladesh from influence of India”. He also pledged to turn Bangladesh into an Islamic republic once his party succeeds in returning to power.

The source further said, meeting between JP leader and Pakistani ISI took place in Dubai, where GM Quader’s special envoy Mashrur Mawla was present.

Although Quader claims Jatiya Party’s undecided stance on participating in the upcoming election, the party has begun distributing nomination forms. Critics note the opportunistic nature of Jatiya Party’s political maneuvering, especially evident in its previous collaborations with the ruling Awami League.

Sources close to Quader suggest his aspirations for significant political bargaining, aiming for a substantial seat share, ministerial positions, and possibly even the premiership within the next government. Simultaneously, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party has escalated its anti-Awami League campaign, both domestically and internationally, seeking support to impose sanctions on Bangladesh and Awami League leaders.

It is well-admitted by everyone in Bangladesh that Jatiya Party actually is a so-called opposition, which has been benefitting in numerous ways particularly since it became a part of the government following 2014 general election. At that time, Jatiya Party that claimed to be the “main opposition in the parliament” was in reality very much a coalition partner of the ruling Awami League. Meaning, following 2014 general election in the country, there was no real opposition in the parliament. And the opportunist tendencies of Jatiya Party are to be held responsible for decline in democratic process in Bangladesh. This time once again, Jatiya Party is back on its old tactics of becoming a so-called opposition by joining the next government as coalition partner.

A source close to JP chairman said, GM Quader is considering the upcoming general election as a “grand opportunity” of bargaining with ruling Awami League. Quader is looking for 100 seats while he has become ambitious of becoming a part of the next government with at least 10 ministers in the cabinet. Some of the close aides of Quader are even suggesting him to demand premiership in the next government.

Meanwhile, with election date approaching, opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party has intensified anti-Awami League campaign in the local and international media, while it lobbyists in Washington and other Western capitals are trying to influence policymakers in imposing sanctions on Bangladesh and dozens of leaders of Awami League.

Unfortunately, these unscrupulous elements are enjoying patronization and support from the Biden administration.

The political landscape in Bangladesh is intricate, with BNP and JeI aiming to disrupt democratic processes for a return to power, while Jatiya Party’s inclinations toward Islamization pose additional threats to the country’s democratic foundation. Unfortunately, these elements allegedly enjoy support from the Biden administration, complicating an already convoluted scenario.


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