People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
May 06, 2007
Students Politics Banned
Pushing the parliamentary election to the backstage, western countries and the army-backed caretaker government in Bangladesh are taking one after another controversial decisions, all in the name of ‘political reforms’; their latest decision being delinking students and trade unions from the political parties. Law and information advisor to the caretaker government has said, political parties will not be allowed to float students and trade union organisations. Taking away the fundamental rights of the students, the law advisor also told the press that students of government and government aided institutions will not be allowed to participate in political activities.
Earlier, the army-backed caretaker government tried to send to exile two former prime ministers of Bangladesh, Khaleda Zia and Sheikh Hasina Wazed. By issuing a press note, the caretaker government banned Awami League president, Sheikh Hasina’s entry into Bangladesh who was on a visit to USA. She was scheduled to return to Dhaka on April 22, but was not allowed to emplane in a British Airways flight from London as per instructions of the Bangladesh government. On the other hand, Bangladesh Nationalist Party chairperson, Khaleda Zia, was forced to apply for a visa from Saudi Arab Embassy to go to that country. The caretaker government has stated that without reforms of political parties and more specifically without cleansing the two big political parties, Awami League and BNP of the present leadership, they are not going to withdraw ban on activities of the political parties and also will not lift the state emergency. Amidst severe criticism from home and abroad, the caretaker government for the time being abandoned their plan to send two former lady prime ministers to go into exile, but still they are pressurising them by fabricating criminal cases against them. Sheikh Hasina has alleged that during her stay in the USA, when she called for early election, the caretaker government arranged filing two criminal cases against her, one alleging collection of money and another political murder. Leaders of Awami League and BNP opined that only the parties concerned can decide whether the present top leaders of their respective parties should remain in their responsibilities or not. It is not the business of the caretaker government to decide who should be the leader of a political party. They also said, as per constitution of Bangladesh the only task of the caretaker government is to conduct free and fair neutral elections and nothing else. The chief of the caretaker government Fakruddin Ahmed, a former World Bank official and former governor of Bangladesh Bank, has made it known that they will conduct elections only at the end of the year 2008. He also said that he had already informed this to Richard Bauchar, deputy assistant secretary, state department of the USA during the SAARC meeting held in New Delhi in the first week of April, indicating that their plan of so called ‘political reforms’ had the approval of Bush administration.
The Election Commission of Bangladesh has started the process of consultation on their electoral reforms proposal, not with the political parties, but with the NGOs. First such meeting has taken place on April 26. Some of the functionaries of the NGOs have voiced the demand of early election. The Workers Party of Bangladesh and the Communist Party of Bangladesh have demanded lifting of the ban on political activities and also demanded for early election. The Chief Election Commissioner has told the NGO leaders that it would take 18 months for preparations of photo identity cards and voters list.
The army backed caretaker government is faithfully implementing the agenda of globalisation as per the directions of the World Bank, its latest decision being to corporatise national air carriers ‘Bangladesh Biman’, rendering more than 4000 employees jobless. The advisory council of the caretaker government has directed the civil aviation department to complete the process by June 30 next. The caretaker government has already privatised the only seaport, Chittagong Port and three government banks.
The caretaker government has systematically been strengthening its grip on the army in the administration and political system. One of the ex chief of the army staff General Hasan Mashud Chowdhury, has been made chief of the anti corruption commission. One former Brigadier General, Shakhawat Hossain, has been inducted in the Election Commission. One former Major General, M.A. Matin, has been made the chief of national committee against corruption, and the serving corps commander has been made convenor of the committee. At the divisional and district level, army brigadier and the army major have been appointed as the chief of the respective level committees.
It may be mentioned here that the students were in the forefront in all the glorious peoples’ struggles in former Pakistan and as well as in Bangladesh, be it the historic language movement of 1952, movement for overthrowing of the military ruler, General Ayub Khan, in 1969, or freedom struggle of the people of Bangladesh in 1971 and many such struggles. The latest decision of the army-backed caretaker government to bar students and trade unions from the political parties has already sparked protests.
The on going state of emergency might be prolonged past 120 days and the possibility of lifting the ban on political activities soon, is slim. The state of emergency declared on January 11, 2007, is set to complete its 120 days on May 11, 2007.
In the meanwhile, the banned fundamentalist Islami organisations have triggered bomb blasts in three main city railway stations in Dhaka, Chittagong and Shylet on May 1 morning exerting their strong network in the country. (INN)