Govt appears keen on banishing decency from politics

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THE Awami League government may have resolved that decency should have no place in its dealing with political opponents, so suggests its virtual embargo on the supply of food and water to the office of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party chairperson Khaleda Zia at Gulshan since Wednesday night. According to a report published in New Age on Sunday, the former prime minister and members on her staff have had to make do with dry food after the police, who have kept her Gulshan office cordoned off since January 4 and the central BNP office at Naya Paltan under lock and key since January 3, refused to let in food and water sent for them by friends and families. The action may have dragged indecent political conduct to a new low but is in no way surprising, given the way it has treated the opposition leader in particular and any expression of displeasure and dissent with its actions and policies in general long before the blockade began. Notably, less than three weeks into the opposition leader’s virtual internment, power supply to her Gulshan office was snapped on January 30, followed by disruption of mobile and landline phone, cable television and internet services the next day. The power connections were restored 20 hours later and mobile services only on February 11 but the internet, landline phone and cable television remain off line. To apparently turn the heat on Khaleda, the government allowed sit-ins by pro-AL elements against the ongoing blockade, not far from her Gulshan office. Moreover, some young men, believed to be members of the Juba League, youth front of the ruling party, are allowed to make daily rounds on motorcycles around the office, as part of the government’s apparent intimidation tactics. Meanwhile, the duplicity and double standards — as manifested in persistent refusal to let the opposition alliance stage any protests while the ruling party elements are allowed to bring out processions at different places in defiance of Section 144 imposed by the police — continue. Even a peaceful sit-in in the capital by the dissident AL leader, freedom fighter and president of the Krishak-Sramik-Janata League, Abdul Kader Siddik, has been brazenly disrupted by the police. Moreover, while AL leaders as well as chiefs of the police, the Rapid Action Battalion and the Border Guard Bangladesh continue to make inflammatory remarks, clamouring for arsonists to be shot at sight, some civil society people who have consistently decried both killing of people in arson attacks and in so-called ‘encounter’, ‘crossfire’, ‘gunfight’, ‘shootout’, etc are labelled as instigators of the killing of people and threatened with action none other than the prime minister herself. After cynically denying the people their right to vote by pushing through an engineered election and distorting the democratic political process by imposing a parliament wherein the main opposition is also part of the government, the incumbents now appear hell bent on setting some more bad precedents, banishing minimum decency in political behaviour in the process. They may think that they will get away with all this but, as history shows, their indecent practices could eventually come back to haunt them some day. Hence, they should rethink their strategy and stop setting bad precedents through such indecent political behaviour.

Source: New Age