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Significant Win


Sheikh Hasina has won an overwhelming victory in the Bangladesh General Elections. The Opposition, part of which boycotted the election, has declared it as rigged. It has been demanded that an impartial caretaker government conduct fresh elections. A number of the so called human rights organisations and sections of the media have supported this demand.
They must think again. They must realise whom she is up against and their past history. The opposition parties are either run by the likes of Hussain Mohammed Ershad, an ex-dictator, or Khaleda Zia, the widow of an ex-dictator, Ziaur Rehman, or fundamentalist Islamists, who would immediately undo democracy if they were ever to win elections. It should be the duty of any modern, secular-minded leader to ensure that those contesting elections are committed to the nation’s constitution and do not have their hands sullied by crimes against the people, such as coups and murder.
Sheikh Hasina has been absolutely clear on this issue and has worked unsparingly to bring to book those involved in either collaborating with the Pakistanis in the genocide preceding the War of Liberation, or overthrowing democratically elected governments through assassinations and force of arms. If such persons are eliminated from the equation, little remains except those committed to the Awami League. If Sheikh Hasina were to follow the advice of thin-blooded and self-appointed do-gooders to merely ‘look’ democratic, rather than be actually committed to democracy, she would be eliminated in no time at all.
If the opposition wishes to defeat Hasina at the hustings, it will have to first develop a genuinely alternate ideology suited to a democratic Bangladesh. By merely cobbling together interest groups and ex-dictators as an alternative will not do in a nation that has faced very difficult challenges and emerged successful on many development parameters. The present reality has to be confronted and a new (younger) leadership created to present a genuine opposition committed totally to democracy and, even, secularism.
Sheikh Hasina’s return augurs well for Indo-Bangladesh relations, which have not only improved but, also, invested in initiatives for mutual development. The improved economic conditions have been the best remedy for the illegal immigration that has been a problem for India. In fact, executives and other qualified persons from India, now, live and work in Bangladesh in increasing number. Such advances cannot be abandoned for the imagined merits of a forced liberality of approach, which would expose a nascent democracy to great peril. The best Sheikh Hasina can do is to stabilise conditions further, even if she has to be somewhat authoritarian to do so. Genuine democracy will emerge as a result.