Is AL alliance-led ‘development’ going against BNP in election campaign
Muhammad Ali Bukhari
Let’s start with most recent, shocking and surprising election outcome of the world in the United States!
“I want them to talk about racism every day,” Steve Bannon, the chief election strategist of Donald Trump said in the summer of 2016. “If the left is focused on race and identity, and we go with economic nationalism, we can crush the Democrats.” He is not completely wrong. When white working-class voters focus on the white part of their identity, Republicans benefit. When they focus on the working-class part, Democrats benefit. And whether you like it or not, white working-class voters are extremely important to determining control of all level of governments in the United States.Similar to that standpoint, are progressives making a mistake by spending so much time in recent days talking about Awami League alliance-led government’s ‘development’ in Bangladesh? No – with a big caution! Because, it is not a mistake for substantive reasons: History shows that ‘development’ becomes even more dangerous when going unchecked. Also, it is not a mistake for political reasons: There are a significant number of independents and Awami League supporters, including minority groups and social media attached educates, who are significantly turned off by Awami League’s election bait-bashing.But it is also important to distinguish between the current moment and the remainder of 2018. In an aspired democracy in Bangladesh, constructively calling out PM Sheikh Hasina is the right thing to do in the days immediately following comments like her nationwide speech last week – all she significantly reaffirmed was the development and take the country to a greater height in the world stage. This should not become the centerpiece of the BNP’s 2018 strategy.
That centerpiece needs to be a principled populism (politics or political ideology based on the perceived interests of ordinary people, as opposed to those of a privileged elite) that causes voters of all faiths — to think about their economic interests. PM Sheikh Hasina certainly can be a huge part of the strategy. The prime minister is almost always the central issue in an election. The key is how BNP will talk about her and her coalition as well as change its own attitude, shape the election culture and create increase awareness.
Emphasizing the way PM Hasina is addressing the poor and middle class working people has almost no downside. It turns off no substantial group of voters. It can win over swing voters, i.e. undecided in between AL and BNP and motivate reliably progressive ones.
Likewise, race is a different issue in the United States. When it is at the center of the political debate, a large group of voters can become more likely to choose white-nationalist candidates like Trump, as Steve Bannon understood that and accordingly exploited this in the US Presidential Election in 2016. Also, Nick Kouvalis, the political strategist did in electing the Mayor John Tory and the late Mayor Rob Ford in the City of Toronto, Canada with promoting simplest objective of respecting the tax payers and stop the gravy train.
You can lament that fact of ‘race’ with ‘development’ in Bangladesh context too. But do not make the mistake of denying the development, we need. We surely need an eco-friendly and sustainable development for all, a vast majority of ordinary people. Is that accurately happening with balance?