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Towards an intensified political impasse?

It had the potential for many fine beginnings; it could have brought the two of our foremost political rivals closer to understanding political realities and, it even kicked-off with a bright ray of optimism, but as morning turned to midday – our politics, once again, had to retreat to square one.

Why?

Because our politicians are yet to develop, possibly the greatest test of courage: in elections, accept defeat without losing heart.

In fact, not only courage but the just-concluded city polls was also a test for the ruling party’s sincere efforts for creating a free and fair, voter-friendly atmosphere.

A lot of people will agree that it has failed in that regard!

Six million people of a divided Dhaka and the port city of Chittagong were expected to exercise their franchise to elect mayors and councillors.

It’s not boycotting or failures to hold credible elections but our ‘sinister political culture’ that has won in the city polls. As analysts kept regretting the BNP’s decision to boycott elections, this writer was completely lost under an avalanche of conflicting questions.

Was the BNP’s boycott planned only because of a few polling agents were thrown out from some centres? Or, a few isolated disruptions, vote-rigging and fake vote stuffing caused by the ruling party? More importantly, despite its shunning has BNP performed too badly in the just ended city polls?

As the counting of votes went on, it was seen that AL candidates were leading and in terms of counts, BNP was doing well too but fell short of winning.

Many assume that sensing defeat in the early hours of 28 April had led the party to reject the polls.

If this is true, then in the future polls, including parliament elections, we will end up with a winning party and a boycotting party with no losers. The BNP’s withdrawal from city polls and the AL’s ‘undisputed’ victories in the two major cities will only prolong the existing political deadlock.

In fact, after every election from local to national levels, we have failed to carve an exemplary path as a run-up to the next election.

Will one be wrong in stating that our political leaders somehow seem to be hell-bent in seeking refuge in politics of conceit and conspiracies?

Commoners like this writer actually wanted to see one party accepting defeat courageously, but, were denied from it. The city polls, no matter how local or small was enough to indicate the true colours of our political leaders.

Also, good result here meant only winning at a margin-to-get-elected and not by winning a major share of the vote bank.

Many are asking, what would have happened if the BNP had lost even if its polling agents were present?

The answer is simple: it would have boycotted results in the same fashion as it pulled out of the polls by midday.

It’s only the timing in the BNP’s boycott technique that’s changed.

The fear now is ‘what repercussions will follow in the days ahead?’- The pattern would be almost the same as encountered in the recent past.

From the angles of a sceptic, our freedom to dream maybe there but the room for optimism within the political sphere is getting narrower.

The day the candidates were politicised, hopes for a free, fare and credible city polls were lost.

It’s relevant to mention that as a voter I chose the person and not his political label. Had he been nominated by a different party I would have voted for him. Many had voted in similar manner.

However, what’s now expected is a blame game which had already begun between our two political arch rivals and for sometime parroting of old hatred and revulsion against each other will dominate the media.

Prospects for another spate of hartals and blockades based on the just ended city polls are there too.

What is particularly sad is that the AL’s golden opportunity to restore some of its tarnished image was utterly wasted.

The BNP, too, has shown how it has turned into a non-compliant win-oriented side.

With the diplomatic community’s demand for a probe into vote irregularities the situation is getting even messier. And the person occupying the centre-stage, the chief election commissioner seems like to have vowed to Leonardo da Vinci’s adage – “Nothing strengthens authority so much as silence.”

However, the bottom-line is, no matter how gloomy the political future may be the cities must keep running effectively.

Keeping this in mind the mayors and councillors elected need to do their duties!

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