TV Talk Show Transcription: TV Talk Show

Dhaka Talk Show Wants EC To Play Vital Role To Create Favorable Ambiance for Credible National Polls
Summary of 'Muktobak' Talk Show Telecast by Channel 24 on 8 November 2018

Program: Muktobak
Topic: Road to Election
Duration: 40 Minutes
Anchor: Rahul Raha

Advocate Sultana Kamal, Former Adviser to the Caretaker Government
Dr. Md. Abdul Alim, Election Analyst
Subhash Singha Roy, Political Analyst


After introducing the discussants, host Rahul Raha said Chief Election Commissioner [CEC] KM Nurul Huda, on 8 November, announced that the 11th parliamentary election will be held on 23 December. The CEC announced the election schedule rejecting the Jatiya Oikya Front’s [JOF] demand of postponing the election, he added. When the ruling alliance is urging all political parties to join the polls, the opposition leaders are accusing the Election Commission [EC] of implementing the government’s wishes of holding another farcical election, the host further said.
Then he turned toward Advocate Sultana Kamal and asked for her reflection in this regard.
Kamal said the recent turn of events was predictable. Seeing the outcome of recently held dialogues between the ruling alliance and JOF, it was not surprising that the EC would announce the election schedule on 8 November rejecting JOF’s demand of postponing the election, she added.
Raha asked Kamal if she thinks it would be possible to hold a credible election on 23 November considering the current political ambiance in the country.
Political uncertainties before national polls are nothing new in Bangladesh, Kamal replied. She, however, added that the upcoming election would be inclusive even if it would not be fair. BNP cannot afford to boycott another election, she said. Besides, Kamal added, ruling Bangladesh Awami League [BAL] does not want to hold another questionable election like the 2014 election. Kamal said all political parties, most probably, would join the polls despite having many unresolved issues among them.
Raha asked Md. Abdul Alim for his reflection in this regard.
All the political parties, including BNP, are making preparations for the next parliamentary election, Alim replied. Alim had also marked the recently held dialogue between the JOF and ruling alliance as an 'added advantage', for the opposition, as the government was reluctant about holding any dialogue with the opposition even a few days ago.
Raha interrupted and said BNP is accusing the government of arresting its leaders and activists under fabricated cases even after the dialogue with the ruling alliance. It seems like BNP Chief Khaleda Zia would remain in prison during the polls, opposition political parties still accusing the government of using state apparatus to hinder their political programs, he added. Then Raha asked Alim if he thinks the current political ambiance in the country is favorable for creating a level playing field before the election.
The level playing field is mandatory for a fair election, Alim replied. After the announcement of the election schedule, the EC becomes the de facto government, he added. So, the EC must take some concrete steps to ensure level playing field for all political parties, Alim said.
Raha asked Subhash Singha Roy if he thinks the oppositions, including JOF and Left Democratic Alliance, are in an unfavorable position ahead of the national polls.
The government is sincere enough to create a level playing field for all political parties ahead of polls, Roy replied. There was no pressure on the government to sit with the political parties, yet the prime minister held dialogues with all political parties to hold an inclusive election, he added. If the opposition parties cooperate with the government, the prime minister would definitely help the EC to hold a fair and credible election, Roy said.
Raha said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had assured the JOF that political leaders and activists won't be arrested anymore. Then he asked Kamal if she thinks the opposition should keep confidence over the words of the prime minister and join the polls.
Kamal said the prime minister is not responsible for arresting anyone. If she gives such assurance, it suggests that the arrests of the opposition leaders and activists are being carried out as per the directive of the chief of the executive, she added. Is the prime minister ready to accept the responsibility of these mass arrests, Kamal put the question forward.
Kamal, however, also questioned BNP’s actions as the opposition. Instead of talking about people’s welfare, BNP has always been vocal about toppling the government, she added. As the opposition, BNP terribly failed to raise its voice about people’s welfare.
Political parties in Bangladesh are concerned about either rising to power or remaining in power, Kamal further said. Both BAL and BNP have a similar mindset, she added. As a result, politics in Bangladesh has become a fight for power between the two main parties, Kamal said.
Raha asked Alim for his reflection in this regard.
Political parties need to nominate qualified candidates, who have the urge for working for the welfare of the people, Alim replied. But the parties are nominating businessmen, professionals, former bureaucrats, and other influential people, instead of true politicians, he added. As a result, politics become difficult for politicians in Bangladesh, he said. As a result, the hunger for power has become more important than the welfare of the people, Alim said.
Raha asked Roy for his reflection in this regard.
Roy blamed BNP for incorporating businessmen and people of different professionals into the politics of Bangladesh. Seeing BNP’s political mileage by incorporating businessmen into politics, BAL had to bring changes in its policy for surviving in the politics, he added.
Kamal interrupted and expressed her consent with Roy that BNP is to be blamed for poisoning the politics of Bangladesh. She, however, also questioned BAL’s role in hampering the democratic process in Bangladesh during its current tenure.
Raha asked Alim for his final remarks.
As the election schedule has been announced, nominating the right candidates is the main challenge for the political parties now, Alim replied. He, however, said that the EC has to play the major role in ensuring level playing field for all political to hold a free, fair, inclusive, and credible election.
Raha thanked the discussants and ended the show.