TV Talk Show Transcription: TV Talk Show

Dhaka Talk Show Discusses BNP's Political Approach After Crushing Defeat in Disputed National Polls
Summary of 'Ekusher Raat' Talk Show Telecast by Ekushey Television on 25 January 2019
Program: Ekusher Raat
Topic: BNP’s Politics and Upcoming Local Government Polls
Duration: 40 Minutes
Anchor: Sajid Rumel
Kader Gani Chowdhury, President, Dhaka Union of Journalists
Muniruzzaman Munir, Leader, Bangladesh Awami League
Sohel Haider Chowdhury, General Secretary, Dhaka Union of Journalists
After introducing the discussants, host Sajid Rumel said the BNP [Bangladesh Nationalist Party], on 24 January, said it would not take part in any elections, including the upcoming upazila [sub-district] and city corporation polls, under the incumbent government. The party alleged that a free and fair election is not possible under this government and the Election Commission, the host further said. In this context, the show was set to scrutinize BNP’s political approach and future of Bangladesh politics, Rumel said.
Host Rumel drew the attention of Kader Gani Chowdhury regarding BNP’s decision of boycotting all upcoming elections under incumbent government and asked for his reflection in this regard.
The 30 December election proved that it is not possible to hold a free and fair election under the incumbent government, Kader Gani Chowdhury replied. He said many thought BNP made a mistake by boycotting the 2014 election under the incumbent government. But BNP’s decision to stay away from the 2014 general election was not wrong, Kader Gani Chowdhury said, alleging widespread irregularities and rigging in the 11th parliamentary election. He further accused the ruling party of violating the constitution and destroying the democratic future of Bangladesh.
Rumel asked Sohel Haider Chowdhury for his reflection regarding the inclusiveness in the upcoming local government elections, as BNP decided not to take part in the polls.
If only a single party boycotts the polls out of 39 registered political parties in the country, it would not make the elections non-participatory, Sohel Haider Chowdhury replied. He, however, said that BNP’s participation is crucial, as it is one of the two main political forces in the country.
Staying out of power for more than 12 years has weakened BNP, Sohel Haider Chowdhury said. BNP wasn’t given a chance to promote itself during the last 10 years, he added. In this situation, if BNP even boycotts the local government elections, it might bring great disaster to the political future of the party, he added.
Rumel asked Muniruzzaman Munir for his reflection regarding the allegation of vote-rigging in the 11th national polls and BNP’s decision of boycotting all upcoming elections under the incumbent government.
Rejecting the allegations of vote-rigging, Munir said BNP is making baseless allegations against the government to cover up the party’s crushing defeat in the polls. Participating in the upcoming polls is BNP’s call but they will have to face consequences if they stand firm on their decision to boycott, he added. BNP has chosen the path of self-destruction and is shrinking by boycotting the elections, Munir said.
Rumel asked Kader Gani Chowdhury for his reflection in this regard.
The nation has not forgotten what happened during past upazila elections, Kader Gani Chowdhury said. After the 30 December election, it has become clear that there is no point in joining any polls under the incumbent government.
The BNP's decision comes amid its grassroots leaders and activists' demand to boycott the forthcoming polls, Kader Gani Chowdhury said.
Kader Gani Chowdhury said BNP candidates were not even allowed to run the election campaign before the 30 December election. BNP grassroots leaders and activists told BNP leadership to boycott the upcoming local government polls as their sufferings and the numbers of cases filed against them would increase if they take part in the upcoming elections, he added. Several hundred grassroots leaders from different districts thronged the court for bail in cases filed fictitious charges of attacking cops, assembling on the roads unlawfully and other reasons, he added.
Kader Gani Chowdhury also drew the attention of the host regarding the role played by the administration and law enforcers during the 30 December polls and said BAL won the election through vote-rigging in connivance with the Election Commission, the police and the administration.
Rumel asked Sohel Haider Chowdhury for his reflection in this regard.
Sohel Haider Chowdhury largely held BNP responsible for its crushing defeat in the polls. He said lack of leadership, inactivity of candidates and confusion over candidates after 'selling nominations' caused the rout of the BNP in the election. Besides, BNP’s alliance with Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami [BJI] also create questions among voters regarding BNP’s stance on anti-liberation forces, he said. Sohel Haider Chowdhury said the crushing defeat in the 11th national polls is nothing but a reflection of the BNP’s political failure.
Rumel asked Munir for his final remarks.
The people had kept faith in the BAL-led Grand Alliance that it would deliver on its promises like it did in the past 10 years to improve standards of living and infrastructure through development work, Munir said about the reason behind the BAL’s landslide victory in the polls. He assured the people of Bangladesh that the BAL-government, under the leadership of Sheikh Hasina, would keep its electoral promises and continue the development works along with ensuring good governance in the country.
Rumel thanked the discussants and ended the show.