Social media flooded with dreadful anti-Awami League propaganda

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As Bangladesh stands on the precipice of its 12th National Assembly elections, the political landscape is undergoing a profound transformation with the battleground expanding beyond traditional realms to encompass the digital frontier. In an era where technology shapes the narrative, social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter have become instrumental in political discourse. However, the increasing prevalence of anti-Awami League cyber-propaganda, spearheaded by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its affiliates, raises pivotal questions about the integrity of the impending electoral process.

In the digital age, political campaigns transcend physical boundaries, finding resonance and impact in the vast landscape of the internet. Facebook, being a social media giant, serves as a primary channel for political communication. Nevertheless, the rising tide of anti-government and anti-election campaigns on platforms like Twitter, orchestrated by the BNP and its associated groups, poses a formidable challenge to the democratic fabric of Bangladesh.

Over the past two years, online activists aligned with the BNP have harnessed the power of information technology to disseminate a barrage of disinformation, falsehoods, and fabrications aimed at discrediting the Awami League (AL) government, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, and various government officials. The sheer scale and intensity of this cyber-propaganda, with a pronounced focus on Facebook and Twitter (X), not only raise concerns about the veracity of public opinion but also threaten the democratic process itself.

The perpetrators of this digital onslaught against the Awami League (AL) are not confined within Bangladesh’s borders. A network of individuals, including convicted and Interpol-wanted figures, has sought refuge in various countries, leveraging their global presence to orchestrate propaganda campaigns against the government. The involvement of figures like Colonel (sacked) Shahid Uddin Khan and Tasneem Khalil, who has sought political asylum in Sweden, accused in multiple robbery cases and Zulkarnain Saer Khan Sami (deported from Hungary for misdemeanors and currently residing in London), Major Delowar Hossain (a former army officer expatriate in Canada), suspected to be the mastermind behind the Holey Artisan Bakery jihadist attack, Lt. Col. Mustafizur Rahman (an army officer who voluntarily retired and fled to America), Jamaat-e-Islami connected neo-Muslim Pinaki Bhattacharya (a Yaba maker and accused in a drug case), Jamaat Shibir cadres and politicians in the United States, Najmus Saquib, (a self-proclaimed homosexual), Tito Rahman, a self-confessed extortionist and expatriate in Canada, who also is associated with terrorist organization Al Qaeda and CEO of YouTube-Facebook-based Nagorik TV,  journalist Kanak Sarwar who fled Bangladesh following a blackmailing scandal, journalist Elias Hossain, a fugitive in America claiming to be Razakar’s son, former reporter of Channel-I Europe branch and feature writer of a Bangladesh daily, Hasina Akhtar, well-known as a call girl in London. There is one more. His name is Tajul Islam Hashmi  (Taj Hashmi), exemplifies the transnational nature of this digital battle. Hashmi’s daughter is known as a filthy drug-addict hooker in Canada.

Reports indicate that the BNP has mobilized a considerable workforce, with over 20,000 workers operating within its media cell. Tasked with generating and disseminating content designed to cast the government in a negative light, this formidable machinery, fueled by multiple social media platforms, poses an existential challenge to the Awami League’s digital campaign.

Despite holding the reins of power, the Awami League (AL) appears to be lagging in the digital campaign arena. While the BNP orchestrates an unrelenting anti-government campaign, the Awami League’s presence on platforms like Twitter is conspicuously limited. This stark digital asymmetry raises serious concerns about the ruling party’s ability to counter the narrative propagated by its opponents and connect meaningfully with the electorate in the digital space.

Awami League’s member organizations, Chhatra League and Jubo League, reportedly received a substantial budget for campaigning. However, the disparity between the allocated budget and the visible campaign on social media platforms is perplexing. Unlike the opposition, there is a notable absence of pro-government content on major social media channels, prompting questions about the effective utilization of resources.

The repercussions of this digital asymmetry extend far beyond national borders. Western media, policymakers, and neighboring countries like India may be exposed to false and fabricated information about the upcoming elections. BNP’s concerted efforts to portray a negative image of Bangladesh through social media and international print media raise critical questions about the role of pro-government journalists and media outlets in countering this narrative.

While some media outlets, such as Blitz, position themselves as pro-government and actively publish content in favor of the Awami League, the overall response from the pro-government media community appears subdued. The lack of a robust counter-narrative from pro-government journalists allows the opposition’s anti-government campaign to persist and gain traction.

As Bangladesh approaches a pivotal electoral juncture, the battle for public opinion unfolds as vigorously in the digital space as it does on the ground. Awami League’s perceived failure to match the intensity of the opposition’s digital campaign, especially on Twitter, raises serious concerns about the potential impact on the election results and the democratic process.

Urgent measures are imperative to promote a positive narrative internationally and counter the anti-government propaganda orchestrated by the BNP and its associates. Proactive engagement on social media platforms, particularly Twitter, is critical to bridging the digital gap and connecting with a broader audience. The 12th National Assembly elections hold profound implications not only for Bangladesh but also for its global image.

In navigating the intricate landscape of digital politics, Awami League (AL) must reevaluate its digital strategy comprehensively. It necessitates leveraging the power of social media not only for dissemination but also for engagement. Proactive measures should be taken to amplify the party’s presence on platforms like Twitter, where the intensity of the opposition’s campaign is notably high.

The allocation of a substantial budget to member organizations Chhatra League and Jubo League for campaigning demands closer scrutiny. An investigation into the apparent mismatch between the allocated budget and the visible campaign on social media is crucial to ensuring that resources are effectively utilized. Transparency in financial disbursement will strengthen public trust in the democratic process.

The role of pro-government media outlets in shaping public perception cannot be overstated. These outlets, exemplified by Blitz, should adopt a more proactive stance in countering the narrative propagated by the BNP and its associates. The dissemination of positive and factual information is key to presenting an accurate picture of Bangladesh’s political landscape.

Recognizing the international ramifications of the ongoing digital struggle, the Awami League (AL) must engage with the global audience proactively. Establishing partnerships with international media outlets, conducting press briefings, and leveraging diplomatic channels are avenues that can be explored to present an accurate and positive narrative to the world.

As the countdown to the 12th National Assembly elections continues, Bangladesh finds itself navigating uncharted waters where the digital realm intersects with traditional political dynamics. The intersection of social media, international propaganda, and political maneuvering creates a complex web that demands careful attention.

The time is ripe for the Awami League (AL) to reassess its digital strategy, leveraging the power of social media to counter the opposition’s narrative. A proactive approach, both domestically and internationally, is essential to safeguard the integrity of the electoral process and ensure that the true voice of the Bangladeshi people resonates globally. In the age of information warfare, digital resilience is not just an option but a necessity for the sustenance of democratic ideals.

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