US-India asked BNP to go to elections

Published at : 13 May 2024, 03:00 pm
US-India asked BNP to go to elections

The US and India pressed the BNP to participate in the 12th National Assembly elections. The reliable sources of the party indicate that this call was made by contacting the high-level BNP on behalf of the two countries.

It is known that while talking to the four responsible leaders of the BNP, the three top leaders of the party and the diplomats of the United States and India, appointed in Dhaka, spoke about this separately. Among these two leaders were discussed in prison. The two leaders were in jail after the violent incident in Dhaka on October 28, 2023. Those two influential leaders of the Standing Committee contacted BNP Acting Chairman Tarique Rahman while sitting in jail and informed him about the attitude of the two powerful states. But Tarique Rahman clarified that it is not possible to participate in the elections in the existing situation. Tarique further argued that thousands of leaders and workers of the party are in jail.

Apart from that, the BNP did not even have the minimum preparation for the election. It is believed that there was great pressure on the government at that time from Western countries, including the United States, regarding the holding of fair and impartial elections. According to observers, along with that pressure, the anti-government movement and BNP's political position were at the 'point of no return' at that time. As a result, even though two leaders are interested, the BNP has finally walked down the path of boycotting the elections.

In addition to Jamaat-e-Islami and the BNP, a number of other like-minded parties boycotted the 12th parliamentary elections on January 7, calling for fair and impartial elections to be held under the caretaker administration.

The United States representatives in Dhaka have reportedly discussed voting in the elections with two of the BNP's top leaders, according to other political sources. They urged people to vote and threatened to inflict penalties from the US following the polls if they were unjust. In this instance, Nicaragua and Cambodia make the finest illustrations.

The United States imposed sanctions on a ministry and nine officials in Nicaragua after rigged elections in November 2021. The United Kingdom, Canada, and the European Union then followed the United States in imposing restrictions on Nicaragua. After that, when Nicaraguan President Ortega was sworn in, the US imposed another round of sanctions on the country. The United States last imposed a visa ban on Cambodia in July 2023 due to flawed elections without a major opposition party.

The US decided to prohibit visas for some persons who are alleged to have been responsible for or complicit in undermining Bangladesh's democratic election process; the specific individuals affected by this decision are unknown. The public's perception of the restriction is unclear; the only people who are aware of it are individuals whose visas have been revoked or who have not been granted one. When asked about sanctions, US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller has frequently stated that the US never talks about sanctions ahead of time.

On the other hand, India advised that it had originally suggested a seat-sharing election. An important member of the BNP Standing Committee told Khaborer Kagoj that he discussed it with several Indian officials. They advised the BNP to participate in the election to make it acceptable, saying it was honorable and assured of their victory in more than a hundred seats. However, in the 2018 elections, there was a discussion in the politics of Bangladesh that the BNP did not get the desired results even after participating in the elections based on seat agreements. Many leaders of the party later spoke and discussed the experience in various circles. However, the team's observation is that even though BNP participated at that time under the assurance of the international community, they could not be given a 'larger number' of seats. in the end due to the over-enthusiasm of the law and order forces and the administration's inability to control the MP candidates of the Awami League. Although the Awami League-led Great Alliance won an absolute majority by getting 288 seats, it was later learned that many high-ranking members of the ruling party were not happy with the result. Because they feel that BNP has been'marginalized' with only 7 seats, it is not good for the politics of the country.

According to the sources, the BNP did not go down the path of negotiation or compromise in the January 7 election because of the experience of that incident in 2018. The party no longer believed in anyone's assurances. Leaders of the party felt that the government would eventually yield to pressure from the Western world, including the United States. In the end, however, the government did not relent. Even if there was no public dialogue, the then Minister of Agriculture Abdur Razzak's statement made it clear that the ruling party was trying to take BNP in the polls before the election. Awami League presidium member Abdur Razzak said in a TV interview on December 17, 2023, that the party did not agree to release all the leaders in one night to bring the BNP to the polls. He said that the Election Commission had repeatedly said that the election would be postponed if the BNP came. It was said that not only were the elections postponed, but everyone would be released from jail.

When asked if the US and India advised the BNP to go to the polls, Abdul Moin Khan, one of the members of the BNP Standing Committee, told Khaborer Kagoj, "The foreign affairs committee of the BNP can say this matter. However, it is not meaningful whether I know it or not."

"The reality of Bangladesh's current political situation is significant from this perspective. Why won't the BNP participate in the election? Ever since its establishment, the BNP has been elected to repeatedly represent the people in governing the country. Therefore, the primary ethical dilemma facing the BNP in this instance was whether they would accept the foreigners' proposal and take part in the staged drama of January 7 to share the halwa and bread, or the fundamental principles that led to the formation of Bangladesh, namely democracy and the right to vote, or whether they would share seats in a compromise formula to share the authority of the Awami government. It will be fixed and given back to the people," said Dr. Khan, who is known to be close to the United States and the Western world. 

"BNP has made the right decision by taking the second route, despite this challenging task as a people's party. Naturally, it is completely irrelevant to ask which superpower suggested against pursuing this moot. A fair and impartial election is how the BNP's continuous struggle seeks to establish a people's government in Bangladesh," continued Dr. Moin Khan.

Iqbal Hasan Mahmud Tuku, another leader of the standing committee and member of the BNP's foreign affairs committee, informed the Khaborer Kagoj that he was out of the country and hence unaware of the situation.