Battle of alliances
The 11th parliamentary election is crucial for both the Mohajote, led by Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League, and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, led by Khaleda Zia, and its allies which had boycotted the previous election.
BANGLADESH IS ALL SET FOR THE 11TH parliamentary election on December 30. Unlike last time, when the nation’s second largest party, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), and its Islamist allies, boycotted the election, this will be an “inclusive” one. In the election held on January 5, 2014, in as many as 153 seats in the 300-member Jatiya Sangsad candidates were elected unopposed. However, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina completed her second tenure without much trouble despite the efforts of the non-parliamentary opposition, the BNP and the Jamaat e-islami, to oust her from power through street protests and violent means.
In fact, a deft political move by Sheikh Hasina to meet her arch rivals, discuss their demands and assure them of holding a credible election resulted in the opposition joining the electoral process. This attempt at dialogue, which once was thought to be impossible because of the government’s rigid stances, lowered political tensions substantially.
For the BNP, joining the electoral process was more than a political compulsion. The party could not gain anything by abstaining from the previous election. Moreover, the constriction of political space for the opposition and the party’s own inner contradictions made the BNP, led by former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, virtually irrelevant in the past five years. Refraining from the election this time too would have been suicidal.
MEMBERS OF THE JATIYA OIKYA FRONT, an opposition alliance, at a news conference confirming their participation in the upcoming parliamentary election, in Dhaka on November 11.