The 13-point proposal for formation of a new Election Commission on expiry of the present one on February 08, 2017, put forward by Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) Chairperson Khaleda Zia on November 18, 2016 is yet to be taken up for discussion by the ruling 14-party alliance, led by the Awami League (AL).
In the ruling 14-party alliance, only the AL matters and other 13 parties have practically no electoral existence as found during the recent local government elections. These small parties are pulling from behind not to hold dialogue on Election Commission because if free and fair elections are held they would be nowhere.
We have seen when the 5th Parliament was in limbo, Chief Election Commissioner Justice AKM Sadeq was making sincere efforts to make elections free and fair but he received no support from any quarter.
Newspaper reports and columns by writers who are not directly involved with politics are hardly effective. The campaign for competent candidates, led by the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), produced no tangible results. If there are no academic pursuits and flowering of democratic culture to turn out leaders regularly, wherefrom will the political parties get good candidates to nominate? When students become party cadres, violence on the campus and during elections, both at the local and national levels, become the norm.
Now that the proposals of the BNP for forming a credible Election Commission are on the table, this opportunity for preparing the ground for holding free, fair, credible and inclusive elections should not be missed.
The writer is an economist and socio-political activist