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Political conundrum in Bangladesh: In search of a sustainable solution

Sarwar J. Minar, Senior Officer, International Programs and Relations, IUB

Sarwar J. Minar, Senior Officer, International Programs and Relations, IUB : The failure to create a modus vivendi has been intermittently creating problems in Bangladesh since its independence.
As a corollary Bangladesh is experiencing its political problem again and again and it seems like there is no way out of this political conundrum. Present political conundrum is not anything new rather this situation is a repetition of what we have been observing since the beginning of Bangladesh’s emergence as a nation, in one form or other, and in varying degrees.
The rebuttal among the opposition parties is a perennial phenomenon in the political setting of Bangladesh and even the violence and killings are not scanty. It is apparent that all the political parties have failed, not just the one in power but also the one in the opposition, in carrying out their respective roles for Bangladesh as a democratic state since its independence.
Democratically elected parties have failed to sustain democratic transition of power and therefore failed to sustain democracy in Bangladesh. We have experienced such scenario consecutively in every decade since the independence of Bangladesh though in different formats and degree.
Now, given the scenario in the backdrop, the million dollar question is: what would be a sustainable solution to the problem? A sustainable solution to the problem needs to address the core of the problem, the source from where this problem is originating. Part of the answer lies in reforming the structure of the political parties in Bangladesh. Family-based party politics overwhelmingly controls party level politics and party’s role in the national level politics. A democratic structure within political parties is essential for a sustainable solution to the recurrence of such political problems in the long run in Bangladesh.
A democratic environment within political parties will help teach leaders to create a democratic environment in the national level. The trend of change in the leadership through election within party will assist to develop a democratic trend of change in the leadership in the national level and make it more acceptable to the leaders of all parties. This will ultimately assist to make democratic transition of power more acceptable in the national level. In addition, limiting maximum terms for an individual to hold the top posts (e.g. like two times) may also be considered.
The change in party level leadership would help create a ‘party to party competition’ in the national level. Since many believe that it is the mind of the leaders where the problems originate, this will put a restraint on the minds of the leaders. Thus making the minds of leaders democratic will ultimately help advance the practice of democracy in Bangladesh.
While leaders of all parties, especially, the two dominant ones have to come to an understanding to solve the present stalemate, it is also necessary to ensure democracy within the political parties for a sustainable solution to such recurrent problem. Even if establishing democracy within a party seems almost impossible given the present family dominant party structure, a secondary structure can initially be advanced within each party which will gradually supplant ‘family-based party structure’ with a ‘democratic party structure’ in course of time. Other essential practices like resigning upon completion of term and/or failure to carry out responsibilities need to start from within the parties which will have an effect in the national level.
The democratic institutions (e.g., Executive, Judiciary, Legislature, Election Commission, Media etc.) have to be autonomous in true sense so that these institutions can contribute to sustain democracy through check and balance in the long run.
In addition, more important thing is that the ‘people’ of Bangladesh need to be cautious and aware of this. The mass people need to understand what and where their real interest and well being lies. It is a matter of regret that many people prioritize their respective ‘party’ without considering the national interests in the long term. Many people vote just because they received money in the previous night of election without considering its impact. People are the real source of power in the democratic republics and this will come true only when people become educated enough to prioritize their and their nation’s interest above all.
A meaningful and transparent practice of democracy within each political party can pave the way of a meaningful and transparent democracy practice in the national level and can save Bangladesh from recurrence of political problem. Politics is not merely a struggle for power; politics is an art of compromise. A democratic culture in the party structure along with truly autonomous democratic institutions and prudent mass people can help bring a sustainable solution to the recurrent political problems in the country and save democracy.

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