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Tuesday, 23 April, 2024

Awami League will find it difficult to seal future seat-sharing deals with allies: Menon

The sharing of seats with the Awami League in recent polls was a ‘very bad experience’, says the president of its key ally, the Workers Party
Express Report
  23 Jan 2024, 14:19

It will be difficult for the Awami League to strike deals on sharing seats with its allies in future because of the way it treated its partners in the recent general election, according to senior politician Rashed Khan Menon.

The Workers Party president won a seat in parliament from Barishal with the ruling party’s support.

But he faulted the Awami League’s rebel candidate AHM Khairuzzaman Liton for the loss suffered by Workers Party General Secretary Fazle Hossain Badsha.

Menon also blamed a lack of Awami League support for the election loss of Hasanul Haq Inu, president of the Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal or JaSaD, despite him winning the party’s nod as a candidate of the 14-Party Alliance.

Menon joined bdnews24.com’s Inside Out to discuss the election, the position of Awami League’s allies, and the future of politics in Bangladesh.

Menon, a leftist since the Pakistani rule, has been a familiar face in Bangladesh’s politics.

The Awami League formed the 14-Party Alliance with the Workers Party, JaSaD and other parties in 2004 during the BNP’s 2001-2006 tenure. A Grand Alliance was formed by including the Jatiya Party, the Bikalpadhara Bangladesh, the Liberal Democratic Party and some other organisations.

The Awami League describes the 14-Party Alliance as an idealistic coalition while the Grand Alliance is for election gains.

After the Grand Alliance announced a boycott of the polls planned in 2007, President Iajuddin Ahmed cancelled the election and declared emergency. After nearly two more years, the Grand Alliance, without the Bikalpadhara and the LDP, contested the election.

The Awami League won but in a new strategy, made the Jatiya Party the main opposition in parliament through seat-sharing deals in the next two elections.

It ceded 26 seats to the Jatiya Party this time, but the opposition party managed to win only 11.

Out of the six seats left by the Awami League, the 14-Party allies won only two.

In most of these seats, Awami League leaders running as independents secured a win.

Menon was asked if he thinks the experiences of the 14-Party Alliance and the Jatiya Party in this election will make it more difficult for the Awami League to find allies and make compromises or deals, moving forward.

“It will be difficult because nobody would like to see that they are treated like this,” he said.

“I think that this is one of the most, I think, very bad experience for us about the alliance’s participation, sharing of the seats.”

Menon is also unhappy with the lateness of the Awami League to finalise the deals, which left little time for the allies to prepare for the vote.

“Unfortunately, the Awami League did not do it until the 17th of January, which was the last day for the withdrawal of nominations,” he said.

Badsha alleged irregularities in the polls to the Rajshahi-2 constituency he contested for.

Menon clarified that Badsha did not speak about vote-rigging, but irregularities by his rival Liton, a presidium member of the Awami League. “He has not said (anything) about the whole thing or something like that.”

Despite party orders to support the Awami League-nominated candidate Badsha, Liton

instructed his council members and the corporation employees to vote against the ruling party’s Boat symbol, alleged Menon.

“At the same time, the independent candidate [Liton] claimed himself to be the candidate of Sheikh Hasina, and he campaigned on that basis. And that he cannot do.”

Inu lost the Kushtia-2 seat to an independent candidate of the Awami League. Menon said Inu was right to allege that the Awami League activists did not support him in the election.

Asked if they sat with the Awami League to discuss these issues after the vote, Menon said: “So far we haven't discussed anything. We hope that every party is going to have their own evaluation of the election and after that we will sit."

As the independents won nearly six times as many seats as the Jatiya Party did, it is still unclear who will be the opposition in parliament.

Menon thinks the Jatiya Party will be the opposition in parliament, but would not enlarge on the reason behind his thought.

He said the election was contested in almost all places despite the BNP’s boycott, except in about 72 constituencies.

“However, there wasn't a high degree of participation. The turnout was around 41 percent. There seemed limited interest from voters,” he said, but added he does not think that 41 percent is a “bad number”.

“Because the average participation in the elections in Bangladesh were almost 56 percent or something like that.”

“I think it was one of the quite successful elections.”

“And so far my understanding goes, with my experience in my own election area, it was quite a fair election.”

The turnout was very high in 2008 and 2018 because the two main political groups contested the polls, he said.

He agreed the voters lost interest this time because it was obvious that the Awami League would win.

“But one thing I want to tell very frankly is that the number of votes which the BNP claims to be their votes is about 33 percent, something like that,” he said.

Menon observed that although the election was not good for them, they think that "the politics we uphold has won, definitely”.

“And that's why we think that the 14-Party Alliance, if they can amend the mistakes, we can go forward with that.”

Menon also discussed why the Workers Party or JaSaD has never grown to the size where they could take power themselves, instead having to ally with larger parties.

“Well, you should understand that the Workers' Party has an ideological basis, which is Marxism-Leninism, which we call in general the Left Party,” he said.

“Unfortunately, the whole socialist world was in a catastrophe after the fall of the Soviet Union. And that has affected the leftist parties all over the world, including Bangladesh. And that's how, in Bangladesh also, we have become weaker than the earlier times.”

And after the restoration of democracy in 1991, the bourgeois political parties wanted to make it a two-party system, making the Awami League and the BNP the largest ones, the MP said.

The other parties were “marginalised by the systematic erosion of their support”.

Bangladesh’s politics had always evolved around political alliances before independence, even during the mass uprising of 1969, he said.

But the rise of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as “practically the sole representative of the Bangladeshi people during the election of 1970” shifted the whole balance to the Awami League, Menon said.

Speaking about his thoughts about Bangladesh now, he said corruption is the number one enemy of the country.

“And it is leading to inflation and other problems – criminalisation of economy, criminalisation of politics, and criminalisation of society.”

He said a neoliberal economic policy that Bangladesh now has always helps corruption and disparity to grow.

“As long as we follow this neoliberal economic policy, this will remain.

“But if you take a stand that Bangladesh should be... be a welfare state, then the whole economic policy should be changed.”

Menon believes the prime task of the new government is to restrain price rises.

“The prices of daily necessities should come down to the level of people's purchasing capacity.”

He recommended strong measures against syndicates of businesses behind price-gouging to control price hikes.

 

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Awami League will find it difficult to seal future seat-sharing deals with allies: Menon

The sharing of seats with the Awami League in recent polls was a ‘very bad experience’, says the president of its key ally, the Workers Party
Express Report
  23 Jan 2024, 14:19

It will be difficult for the Awami League to strike deals on sharing seats with its allies in future because of the way it treated its partners in the recent general election, according to senior politician Rashed Khan Menon.

The Workers Party president won a seat in parliament from Barishal with the ruling party’s support.

But he faulted the Awami League’s rebel candidate AHM Khairuzzaman Liton for the loss suffered by Workers Party General Secretary Fazle Hossain Badsha.

Menon also blamed a lack of Awami League support for the election loss of Hasanul Haq Inu, president of the Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal or JaSaD, despite him winning the party’s nod as a candidate of the 14-Party Alliance.

Menon joined bdnews24.com’s Inside Out to discuss the election, the position of Awami League’s allies, and the future of politics in Bangladesh.

Menon, a leftist since the Pakistani rule, has been a familiar face in Bangladesh’s politics.

The Awami League formed the 14-Party Alliance with the Workers Party, JaSaD and other parties in 2004 during the BNP’s 2001-2006 tenure. A Grand Alliance was formed by including the Jatiya Party, the Bikalpadhara Bangladesh, the Liberal Democratic Party and some other organisations.

The Awami League describes the 14-Party Alliance as an idealistic coalition while the Grand Alliance is for election gains.

After the Grand Alliance announced a boycott of the polls planned in 2007, President Iajuddin Ahmed cancelled the election and declared emergency. After nearly two more years, the Grand Alliance, without the Bikalpadhara and the LDP, contested the election.

The Awami League won but in a new strategy, made the Jatiya Party the main opposition in parliament through seat-sharing deals in the next two elections.

It ceded 26 seats to the Jatiya Party this time, but the opposition party managed to win only 11.

Out of the six seats left by the Awami League, the 14-Party allies won only two.

In most of these seats, Awami League leaders running as independents secured a win.

Menon was asked if he thinks the experiences of the 14-Party Alliance and the Jatiya Party in this election will make it more difficult for the Awami League to find allies and make compromises or deals, moving forward.

“It will be difficult because nobody would like to see that they are treated like this,” he said.

“I think that this is one of the most, I think, very bad experience for us about the alliance’s participation, sharing of the seats.”

Menon is also unhappy with the lateness of the Awami League to finalise the deals, which left little time for the allies to prepare for the vote.

“Unfortunately, the Awami League did not do it until the 17th of January, which was the last day for the withdrawal of nominations,” he said.

Badsha alleged irregularities in the polls to the Rajshahi-2 constituency he contested for.

Menon clarified that Badsha did not speak about vote-rigging, but irregularities by his rival Liton, a presidium member of the Awami League. “He has not said (anything) about the whole thing or something like that.”

Despite party orders to support the Awami League-nominated candidate Badsha, Liton

instructed his council members and the corporation employees to vote against the ruling party’s Boat symbol, alleged Menon.

“At the same time, the independent candidate [Liton] claimed himself to be the candidate of Sheikh Hasina, and he campaigned on that basis. And that he cannot do.”

Inu lost the Kushtia-2 seat to an independent candidate of the Awami League. Menon said Inu was right to allege that the Awami League activists did not support him in the election.

Asked if they sat with the Awami League to discuss these issues after the vote, Menon said: “So far we haven't discussed anything. We hope that every party is going to have their own evaluation of the election and after that we will sit."

As the independents won nearly six times as many seats as the Jatiya Party did, it is still unclear who will be the opposition in parliament.

Menon thinks the Jatiya Party will be the opposition in parliament, but would not enlarge on the reason behind his thought.

He said the election was contested in almost all places despite the BNP’s boycott, except in about 72 constituencies.

“However, there wasn't a high degree of participation. The turnout was around 41 percent. There seemed limited interest from voters,” he said, but added he does not think that 41 percent is a “bad number”.

“Because the average participation in the elections in Bangladesh were almost 56 percent or something like that.”

“I think it was one of the quite successful elections.”

“And so far my understanding goes, with my experience in my own election area, it was quite a fair election.”

The turnout was very high in 2008 and 2018 because the two main political groups contested the polls, he said.

He agreed the voters lost interest this time because it was obvious that the Awami League would win.

“But one thing I want to tell very frankly is that the number of votes which the BNP claims to be their votes is about 33 percent, something like that,” he said.

Menon observed that although the election was not good for them, they think that "the politics we uphold has won, definitely”.

“And that's why we think that the 14-Party Alliance, if they can amend the mistakes, we can go forward with that.”

Menon also discussed why the Workers Party or JaSaD has never grown to the size where they could take power themselves, instead having to ally with larger parties.

“Well, you should understand that the Workers' Party has an ideological basis, which is Marxism-Leninism, which we call in general the Left Party,” he said.

“Unfortunately, the whole socialist world was in a catastrophe after the fall of the Soviet Union. And that has affected the leftist parties all over the world, including Bangladesh. And that's how, in Bangladesh also, we have become weaker than the earlier times.”

And after the restoration of democracy in 1991, the bourgeois political parties wanted to make it a two-party system, making the Awami League and the BNP the largest ones, the MP said.

The other parties were “marginalised by the systematic erosion of their support”.

Bangladesh’s politics had always evolved around political alliances before independence, even during the mass uprising of 1969, he said.

But the rise of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as “practically the sole representative of the Bangladeshi people during the election of 1970” shifted the whole balance to the Awami League, Menon said.

Speaking about his thoughts about Bangladesh now, he said corruption is the number one enemy of the country.

“And it is leading to inflation and other problems – criminalisation of economy, criminalisation of politics, and criminalisation of society.”

He said a neoliberal economic policy that Bangladesh now has always helps corruption and disparity to grow.

“As long as we follow this neoliberal economic policy, this will remain.

“But if you take a stand that Bangladesh should be... be a welfare state, then the whole economic policy should be changed.”

Menon believes the prime task of the new government is to restrain price rises.

“The prices of daily necessities should come down to the level of people's purchasing capacity.”

He recommended strong measures against syndicates of businesses behind price-gouging to control price hikes.

 

Comments

Will Taylor Swift endorse him in 2024? Biden says that's 'classified'
Netanyahu says 'enough' remaining Israeli hostages alive to warrant Gaza war
Netanyahu’s rejection of Palestinian state unacceptable, says David Lammy
IMF chief says AI holds risks, 'tremendous opportunity' for global economy
Dr. Debapriya highlights discrepancies in politicians’ wealth and commitments to public welfare