Bangladesh Elections: Will Sheikh Hasina Come Back in Power? 
| Virendra Kumar Gaur, Former IG, BSF - 30 Nov 2018

Bangladesh Elections: Will Sheikh Hasina Come Back in Power? 

By VK Gaur
New Delhi, Nov 29, 2018: Race for elections to Bangladesh Jatiyo Sangshad (Parliament) is taking new turns and twists. For 2019 elections well over fifty political parties are preparing to organise different alliances. Bangladesh Ruling party grand alliance headed by present incumbent Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is likely to have twenty partners.

Main parties are Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal, Bangladesh Workers Party, NAP, Jatiyo Party, Bangladesh Birkat Federation, Gono Azadi League.  Jatiyo Party led by HM Ershad has been given a large chunk of seats- fourty seven seats.

They were demanding a hundred seats whereas Awami League (AL) had earmarked seventy seats for alliance partners. Chief of JP and former President Maj. Gen. HM Ershad has been admitted to CMH for medical and other complications.

Incidentally, this week a hundred and fifty officers from Bangladesh armed forces (109 from the army, 18 from the air force and 19 from navy) met SK Hasina, greeted her and committed their full support during parliament election to her party. Many officers are of the rank of brigadier, Maj. General and Lt. General.  

The unicameral parliament of Bangladesh has three hundred and fifty seats of which three hundred are filled by elections every five years and fifty seats are reserved for nominations of women. Nominations are made by ruling party/alliance.

BNP the main opponent of AL spearheads the second largest political party alliance also has twenty odd parties.

Its chairperson Begum Khalida Zia is in jail. She was convicted twice in Feb and Oct 2018, for ten and seven years respectively, on corruption charges. Her main support, the eldest son Tariq Rehman 51, has been living in the UK for the last 10 years.  He is a fugitive wanted in 12 criminal cases. He was convicted for life in 2004 grenade attack case and sentenced to seven years imprisonment and a fine of Tk 200 crore in 2007 money laundering case. He is an acting chairperson of BNP since imprisoned Khalida Zia is sick.

Rehman considered an ace organiser and popular leader had mobilised a movement against AL (1996-2001) and BNP won a landslide victory in 2001 securing a two-thirds majority in the Parliament. He has an anti-India stance.

It is relevant to recall that Rahman had established close links with ULFA leaders stationed in Dhaka. His meetings with Paresh Barua and ISI operatives were reported in media. Name of Khalida’s son was also in limelight in connection with Chittagong arms haul in 2004. The consignment was meant for insurgents of North East India.

Therefore, the return of BNP alliance to power may cast a shadow on the peace and stability of North Eastern India. 

He, however, can hardly return to BD for election campaign but can activate several resources.  He may organise, rely on digital resources like YouTube like he did in 2014 elections.

The BNP led alliance has Jamat -e-Islami (major partner), Khilafat Majlis, factions of Jatiyo Party, Jamat -e-Ulema-e Islam,  Kalyan Party, NAP (Bhashani), Labour Party and Democratic League.

There is a sizeable congregation of staunch communal and anti- Indian elements within some of the alliance members. There were allegations some time ago that those BNP supporters were encouraging Rohingya inflow from Myanmar for movement across the border.

There are nearly 9,00,000 of them in various locations posing a serious threat to law and order. Elections in Bangladesh have been a violent affair in yesteryears. Attacks on minority groups are well organised.

BNP is desperate to find a leader.Dr.  Komal Hussain the former cabinet minister of AL is acting chairperson of BNP. The Party is exploring the feasibility of fielding Dr Zubaida Rahman the wife of Tarique Rahman, a physician from Sylhet. Her father Rear Admiral Mehboob Ali Khan was chief of Naval Staff of Bangladesh. With her political background, she may be able to steer a BNP alliance on the desired course.

However, she is also facing graft charges. Recently the High court at Dhaka asked her to surrender within 8 weeks in the graft-related case. Presently she is in London with her husband. Since the case against her is not grave she may return to Bangladesh and lead BNP led alliance. From media reports, it appears that she may be a sensation for the election campaign.

The third leftist front may not be significant.

Elections in Bangladesh are relevant to India’s peace and stability in the Eastern and North Easter theatre. We need neighbours that follow secular policies, work for regional peace, development and proactively crush forces of terrorism. For India, the return of the Awami League-led alliance will be a welcome event.

Photo – Courtesy / The Dhaka Tribune (AL rally at Suhrawardy Udyan 07.03.2018)

(The writer Mr VK Gaur is former IG, BSF and has written more than 50 Books on the issues related to Defence, Strategy and Internal security. )


Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of Indian Observer Post and Indian Observer Post does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.

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