Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Elections In Bangladesh:

The Awami League has returned to power after two-years of military-backed rule, winning the election. The results were resounding for the Awami League-led alliance, which won over 260-seats, while the hapless BNP-led alliance won only 30 seats, with their chief ally, Jamaat-e-Islami, winning a paltry two seats.

I have two thoughts on this watershed election.

It is worth noting, however, how poorly Jaamat faired in the election. Many feared Jamaat’s growing political prowess as they won more seats with each subsequent election, a clear-cut sign of Islamization of Bangadesh society, but in reality Jamaat was nothing more than a house of cards. For all their public piety, for all their purported virtue, for all they do for the poor and the downtrodden, Jamaat have proven themselves to be sleazy and dishonest. For one thing, they supported terrorist outfits. They openly denied their involvement in suppressing the independence movement. When confronted with the facts, they changed their tune, suddenly claiming they were on the side of history-- on the wrong side. Such blatant dishonesty was paid back in spades at the polling station. Let us hope they are marginalized for some time to come.

Finally, are we witnessing a new era in Bangladeshi politics, or reverting to the same old, same old? One of the hallmarks of military rule is the perception that things were better: law-and order was better, less corruption, more stability, etc. Can the Awami League sustain what the military has started? It’s possible given the overwhelming majority they currently hold, but, often, such overwhelming majority can also lead to tyranny and autocracy and their evil step-child, corruption.

Let's hope that Bangladesh is on a positive track.

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