Like the overwhelming majority of people in Bangladesh, we all are so much encouraged by the recent political comments, statements and hopefully, positive positions of our leaders across the divide. An ominous cloud was taking hold of the scenario around the national issues, especially on the crucial point of the nature of administration to cover the forthcoming general elections in early 2014. The nation that had gone through a series of traumatic episodes in the past is praying for a miracle in the shape of a peaceful transition of state power ( and not forgetting the responsibilities that go with it ) through an acceptable and transparent process of free and fair nation-wide elections.
A quick succession of some political moves and statements in the past few weeks has made us all in all walks of life very hopeful. I am referring to the Opposition’s steadfast demand that focused with all the clarity it could command on one point - that they are ready for a dialogue once the the government restores the Constitutional provision for the forthcoming general elections to be held under an Interim/ caretaker government and later, a clarification was helpfully added that whatever the name, the government to hold the elections must be non-party, neutral and transparent. The leaders of the party in power also came up with a bold and in my view , very wise and constructive statement that ’ But we believe there will be an acceptable solution after dialogue , which is a continuous process’. This was further illumined by the media report (03 June,2012) quoting the Government statement ‘ the Constitution is our factor.There will be dialogues ( following the Constitution) there will be decisions, there will be elections and all will participate in the elections, where people will give their mandate on the next government.’ We are further emboldened in our national hope when the Opposition had so positively come forward with the public promise to postpone their scheduled, anticipated and all-out flow of movements.
One cannot but agree that a very enabling environment has been so created and no better times would be for as to take the entire political exercise of restrained response, mature dialogues and rational resolve to another level. This is the defining moment for this and its leaders not just to conform to some given standards, but to set new ones. And the touchstone of all their endeavours would be the people’s welfare, the country’s progress and the nation’s happiness and glory. And we all , across all the divides, all the differences and all the distresses, owe this as the ultimate homage to all .
I have had the distinct privilege to analyse and write on the various strands of thoughts, initiatives and issues around the Interim/ caretaker government theme. These are contained in i) Of FBCCI and the quest for the Holy Grail of politics ? / 08 May,2012, ii) Thoughts on Interim / Caretaker government // 13 May,2012 , and iii) Thoughts on Interim /Caretaker government II /// 24 May,2012. I trust that these present some critical and constructive perceptions of the crucial elements and factors and the obvious and not so obvious , political. party and personal problems and irritants that make the journey of understanding , mutual respect and most importantly, the essentiality of an agreed agenda for the nation. The agenda refers to some broad agreement on some of the major policy/institutional arrangements for the long-term welfare of the people and for the stable progress of the nation.
Early in May,2012 media ’s brief reports spotlighted a group of business leaders’ initiative to help address the country’s continuing political uncertainties and ongoing crisis in the economic arena. Some sort of ‘home-grown solution’ and preparation of a ‘work plan’ were referred to at the time. Even though no further elaboration has been forthcoming in the media since, one would hope that the senior, well-respected personalities from the economic, financial and trade sector would have their thoughts expressed in the overall interest of the country in the critical circumstances. It would signal a support to all the stakeholders of a nation aspiring for smooth, people-friendly governance. The business leaders have an enviable fund of wisdom and goodwill that can certainly contribute significantly to an acceptable solution for all concerned. One need not remind them that they have been given much and much is expected from them.
While it is self-evident that the normal democratic practice should be restored, the over-riding national interest and the prevailing realities, however, lead to a re-evaluation of the governance strategy as a bridge to a permanent arrangement. And that involves a search in good faith for a balanced democratic polity in the supreme interest of the people and their welfare. We are encouraged by the sense of pragmatism on all sides that will lead towards a workable policy till the nation goes to the polls. In a display of deep wisdom the country’s highest court declared the caretaker government arrangement unlawful and ultra-vires of the Constitution. Simultaneously, they have indeed recognised the ground reality by allowing next few elections to be undertaken, if required, under such neutral, non-partisan interim framework.
In fact, a well-chosen Interim government with knowledgeable, competent, experienced and impartial advisors with proven integrity, could work to create a win-win situation politically. And by ensuring a clean , comprehensive and enabling environment and by holding a transparent, free and fair general elections as per schedule , the interim government would be opening new windows of opportunity for democracy to flourish and the nation to move forward. We should do well to remind ourselves that on previous occasions the lawfully installed interim governments were able to deliver free and fair general elections and these were acknowledged to be so by all within the country and without. And both the major parties had taken over the state power through this process. Therefore, it is essential to recognise that to achieve this very objective, all the stake-holders and movers and shakers need to genuinely adopt non-partisan view on all related issues to enable the people at large to exercise their fundamental right to vote and elect the Government of their choice, without fear or favour.
And as an essential preliminary step leaders of all political parties , in particular the two major ones, may wish to exercise maximum restraints in their public statements and refrain from adopting confrontational or provocative posturings. Let there be rational and mature conduct in all our political affairs as we all do value above all the well-being and the future of the people. Let us give peace and political dialogue a chance.