‘Elections were open for everyone; they did not come’
One more month left for the 12th parliamentary elections. Like-minded parties including BNP did not participate in the election. The game of hide and seek is going on with the Grand Alliance. There is domestic and foreign pressure to make elections fair, participatory and acceptable. At the same time, the visa policy and economic sanctions of the United States are eye-popping.
Awami League's Joint General Secretary AFM Bahauddin Nasim spoke to Barta24.com about this.
Interviewed by Barta24.com Staff Correspondent Ruhul Amin.
Barta24.com: Bangladesh is now in a very sensitive position geopolitically. Many countries including Europe, USA, Russia, and China are now focusing on the politics and elections of Bangladesh. Moreover, there are rumors that sanctions may come from USA after the election. What does the Awami League think about this?
Bahauddin Nasim: Now nobody can throw us into the Bay of Bengal if they want to. Not in that place. Because it's not just about our will alone, they also have issues, they also have needs. They need it; we need it, the world as a whole. But yes, some are a bit more powerful, some are a bit less powerful. But still the relationship is mutual and multilateral. No one can throw away our economy where it stands. Then they would have finished us earlier with sanctions.
A part rich in negative thinking always sees bad things. Those who cannot dream of good things speak and spread such words. It is also a form of information terrorism. They know very well what stage the economy of Bangladesh is at; we have become a developing nation. But we are recognized internationally. There was such propaganda that the peacekeeping force of Bangladesh will not be taken anymore. Is it possible if you want? Our soldiers have reached number one with professionalism and bravery.
Barta24.com: Recently, Uganda and Zimbabwe have been imposed sanctions and visa bans on allegations of election rigging. Is there a possibility of something like this happening in Bangladesh?
Bahauddin Nasim: Who gave it there, for what reason? It must be explained. There they made laws to prevent the election of parties that could win or form a government with the people's mandate. They were not allowed to participate in the elections. It has not been done in Bangladesh. In Bangladesh they are given all kinds of opportunities to choose. This right has been given to them. They didn't come to the contrary are giving blockades, attacks and arson. So what is the incident of Bangladesh and Cambodia? This truth should be presented to the people of Bangladesh.
Barta24.com: Did Awami League took any initiative to bring BNP and other parties to the election?
Bahauddin Nasim: We will go to the elections, we will participate in the elections. All the registered political parties in Bangladesh should participate in the elections with motivation, to get the people's mandate. They want to overthrow the government and come to the elections without trying to get the people's mandate. Is it constitutionally recognized? Why will the people of the country accept what they want outside of the constitutional rules?
They did not say that they will come to the election. Now they cannot be brought to the election by hand. Or they can't be forced to participate in elections by beating them with sticks, sending the police and catching them. It is his democratic right. What is said here, if the election stands, their nomination will be canceled? Or will they be arrested and sent to prison when they go to file nomination papers in the election? Has there been any such action?
Barta24.com: Does BNP still have a chance to participate in the elections?
Bahauddin Nasim: How? The train is now on its way to reach the modern station of Cox's Bazar.
Barta24.com: Some said that Awami League is creating division in the grassroots by fielding independent or dummy candidates for competitive elections. Tension is being created with this, fights are also happening somewhere. What steps will Awami League take to prevent a long division?
Bahauddin Nasim: We want to hold elections in a festive atmosphere. We want the atmosphere of festival to be created in the election. But already the festive mood of the election has been created. That is what is most important to us.
Independent candidates are constitutionally allowed to stand. Awami League candidates are also independent in some places. It has stood in the past as well. We want popular candidates to be elected by popular vote. That will strengthen democracy. This is our main goal. We are not taking any initiative to forcibly remove anyone from nomination or election. Those who are more popular will be elected, there is nothing wrong here.
Barta24.com: Awami League's grassroots workers are getting divided in favor of boats and independents as they are independent candidates from Awami League. In that case the staff will be with whom? Boat or individual?
Bahauddin Nasim: They will move towards their choice. Since no specific direction has been given by the party so far, what does it mean? What does it mean? But our leaders and workers will understand this. But you also have to understand.
Barta24.com: Many of the senior leaders say that it will be the independent candidates who will face action against them. But you say we will not take any action. Confusion is being created, what do you say about this?
Bahauddin Nasim: There is no confusion among us. If someone says it, ask him. Our core spirit is that elections should be participatory. There are about three thousand candidates in the election, if they participate in the election, is it good or bad? If more candidates participate in the election, those who are popular will win. It is normal that many will get more votes, many will get less. The General Secretary of our party has written about the spirit of the party. That's clear. That is, those who are standing in the 14 parties have also been informed about this matter. They should not withdraw.
Barta24.com: You have been given the responsibility of distributing the seats of the 14 party alliance, how far have you progressed on the matter?
Bahauddin Nasim: We are in discussion. It will end soon. Earlier I said it will be completed by 16-17. I think it will be over before then.
Barta24.com: The partner parties want more seats, in that case, will Awami League distribute the seats according to the expectations of the partners?
Bahauddin Nasim: It is not right to say the matter like this. It is only a matter of getting and wanting. Winnable candidate is given importance in the election. We have told 14 parties that winnable candidates must be given importance.
Barta24.com: Rashed Khan Menon, the president of your ally Workers’ Party, was the Member of Parliament from Dhaka-8 Constituency in the last three elections. Now you have been given the boat for the first time from the seat. How much cooperation partners in the electoral field?
Bahauddin Nasim: I had a conversation today with the former Member of Parliament and senior leader Menon (Worker’s Party President Rashed Khan Menon) brother of this constituency. Partners with us have good relationship both individually and as a team. Everything will end well. There are no new thoughts or fears about it.
Barta24.com: Got nomination from Dhaka-8 seat. If you win, what steps will you take to meet the expectations of the people of the area?
Bahauddin Nasim: Besides doing party work, I will also sit with the activists. It seems to me that there is enthusiasm among people. Awami League field workers, grassroot workers are very happy . I don't consider myself a worthy person. But I understand that you don't have to struggle much to win here. Another thing I think is that the voters will come to the polling station. Will vote for me as Awami League candidate regardless of party opinion.