Election 2008 and a dream manifesto
Md. Anwarul Kabir
Election 2008 seems to be an unprecedented one as it is going to be held in completely different context. Failure of the immediate past CG headed by Prof. Iazuddin Ahmed in resolving political crisis prompted the incumbent Government backed by the army to be installed at the power centre in January 11, 2007. Though the constitutional footings of this government are ambiguous, the people of the country instantly welcomed the government as it saved the country from possible bloodshed out of political turmoil. Albeit the government failed to fulfil peoples’ expectations in many aspects (e.g. curbing the price spiralling) and its authoritarian futile efforts in implementing so called ‘minus two theory’, the people of the country appreciate its some pragmatic steps, which no doubt, will contribute much to our sojourn towards good governance. In this context reconstitutions and reformations of PSC, AC, EC and the separation of judiciary from administration can be cited. Compared to other EC’s since independence, the present EC seems to be more confident in staging a fare election as it is now more empowered than ever. Moreover, the general perception suggests that unlike immediate past Chief Adviser, as the incumbent Chief Adviser has no political affiliation, this time the government will refrain from undue interfering in electoral process.
Implementation of voters’ list with national ID card, mandatory registration of political parties, amendment of 1972 electoral law, are so far the success stories of the present EC. Thanks to ACC for its untiring efforts in framing charge sheets against many corrupt politicians and subsequent verdicts on some cases by the lower courts that have already eliminated some bad elements from the electoral process. Among those who are not convicted but under trial and have been nominated as candidates, voters this time hopefully will reject many of them who lavishly involved in corruption and vandalism. For turning the election into a festive event, the government has already assured the nation that it will withdraw emergency after the approval of nominations.
So it is justifiably claimed that so far, a relatively healthy atmosphere has been created for holding a credible election. Now is the turn of political parties. We hope that all political parties will play responsible roles in the electoral game. Right now the first and foremost responsibility of the political parties is to present a pro-people manifesto. The manifestos to be framed by the political parties should not be mere paper documents. Rather, the party concern should have conviction to implement it if it gets verdict to assume power. Presumably, the major political parties are now concentrating on designing their respective manifestos. For their attention, a dream manifesto of a party X for this election is cited below:
a) If X wins the electoral race then it will work for making the parliament an effective one. For this, it will select neutral and prudent parliamentarians as Speaker and Deputy Speaker. Besides, it will form different parliamentary committees with proportionate members from the opposition parties.
b) If X wins then it will work hard to curb the price spiralling of essentials. Although there is global economic depression, the major cause for price-spiralling in our country is the lack of efficient market management. The party, if assumes power, will implement an effective and efficient market management system so that the prices of essentials fall within the reach of the poorer class. Besides, it will devise a pro-people economic policy assessing the failure of free market economy in the global context. In fact, X is considering a state controlled welfare free market economy for overall development of the country. In our country for the proper growth, promoting SME is a must. The government will also give a special attention to this.
c) If X assumes power, it will continue the present drive against corruption. Especially it will focus on institutional corruptions as the curbing of institutional corruptions will dramatically reduce overall corruption of the country. For this, the government will further empower ACC so that it can work neutrally without any undue interference from any vested quarters.
d) If X assumes power, it will establish Good Governance in the country. All government’s activities will be pro-people and transparent. For this, the government will establish e-Governance with a view to leading the country towards good governance.
e) Though in paper, the judiciary unit has been separated from the administrative unit, in practice the process of separation is yet to achieve. Specifically in recruiting judges, the influence of administration is still prominent. If X comes to power then it will fully empower Judicial Service Commission.
f) Agriculture, though it is the largest producing sector of the country where 60% of total labour force are involved, is unjustifiably neglected. If X wins then it will give special attention to the development of this sector. The government will work for the peasants so that they can get the benefits from their agricultural products in real sense. For this, village-based marketing system will be established where the poor peasants will be able to sell their products to the wholesalers in urban areas directly bypassing present multi-tier middlemen. Besides, the government will provide sufficient subsidies to the peasants for overall development of the agriculture production in the country.
g) Education is a basic right — not any privilege. Right now we have a chaotic education policy. If X wins, it will provide the nation with a pro-people uniform education policy. The government will allocate substantial amount of budget for this sector with a view to enhancing overall quality of education.
h) Power crisis is an acute problem in the country. To overcome this, if X forms the government then it will take immediate decision in implanting some power plants so that the consumers can be benefited within the shortest possible time..
i) For the development of the country local governments must be empowered. If X wins, it will ensure full autonomy of local administrative units (e.g. Union Council, Upazilla etc) so that they can take their own decisions for overall development of the regions. The government representatives (e.g. UNO, DC) in this case will provide all logistic supports for implementing the decisions to be taken by the local bodies.
j) Worldwide rise of Islamic is in an alarming state now. If X comes to power then it will take some pragmatic steps in combating terrorism. For encountering the propagation of distorted Islamic creeds, it will uphold the real teaching of Islam which suggests peaceful co-existence with different segments of the people. Besides the government will take an initiative to modernise the Madrasa education so that the Madrasa students can be properly integrated with the mainstream of the society.
k) Trial of war criminals is now a popular demand. Respecting the spirit of our liberation war, if X wins, it will constitute a special tribunal for the trial of 1971 war criminals.
l) If X comes to power, for women emancipation and empowerment a pro-women policy will be adopted and implemented.
m) If X comes to power then it will devise a sovereign foreign policy. X wants to see Bangladesh a self determined and esteemed country on the globe. For this it will not tolerate any undue interference from any foreign country in our internal affairs. In this context X will compel the foreign diplomats to strictly follow the Geneva Convention.
n) It is apparent that many multinational companies are eager to grab our mineral resources like gas, oil and coals. Due to strong resistance of the patriotic countrymen, in the past ill efforts of some multinational companies were failed. However, yet now we have no proper policy for mineral resources. If X forms the government, it will formulate a pro people mineral resources policy.
o) If X wins then it will uphold the essence of universal human right. It will resolve the problems in Chittagong Hill Tracts considering the right of different ethnic groups there. Besides it will also stop the phenomenon of extra judiciary killing in the country.
The above manifesto may seem to be overambitious. We know that the culture of a country and its political realm cam not be changed overnight. But we like to believe that Election 2008 will be a turning point for the country. At least, this election will decriminalise the political domain to a greater extent and will lead us to good governance.
(Md. Anwarul Kabir is a freelance writer. He can be reached at email@example.com)