AL trying to prove a new normal
Awami LeagueAlready scared of a potential political crisis ahead of the general elections, ruling Bangladesh Awami League (AL) has been further burdened with a series of crises such as floods, rising commodity prices and Rohingya influx.The AL leaders are still trying to show their discomfort or apprehensions as ‘new normal’ in their turbulent political history, especially after formation of the government in 2014 through a controversial ballot.New normal is an economic term used in the West to define ‘a period of time in which economies grow very slowly as opposed to growing like weeds’. It is now being used to show an abnormal situation as normal.In this context, the AL leaders said, they are keeping watch on what the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) is going to do with its demand for polls-time neutral government for holding free and fair general elctions.”Conspiracies are always on. But no conspiracy will be successful due to the party unity and leadership of prime minister Sheikh Hasina. Still we’ll have to remain cautious,” AL presidium member Faruk Khan told Prothom Alo.The AL as party and also the govenment will maintain caution about the next anniversary of the 5 January polls, the fourth of its second victory though in questionable elections, party insiders said.Apart from the opposition’s protest demonstration against the one-sided 5 January 2014 elections, the AL had faced three-month road blockage programme enforced by the BNP in 2015, terrorist and militant attacks in late 2015 and major part of 2016 including Holey Artisan attack.Now, the AL leaders admitted that most of their plans eying the next national elections have been disrupted due to the recent crises.A senior AL leader, who wanted not to be named, said the BNP may take to the streets to win public support in favour of the election-time neutral government and the deployment of troops during the elections.The government has information that the opposition party had a plan to demonstrate on and around 5 January next year to create anti-government opinion.However. the AL is not sure whether the BNP will launch any violent demonstration or try to turn it into a popular movement.BNP standing committee member Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain said, “I have no idea of any programme centring 5 January.”He, however, mentioned that the party will “announce programmes to win public opinion after presenting the framework of the election-time supportive government.”A section of AL leaders said the party policymakers have divided opinions over BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia. Some suspect she might have developed any political game plan during her three-month stay in London.They are also divided on whether the graft cases filed against Khaleda Zia should be disposed of soon or slowly.The ruling party is even thinking whether the BNP will be allowed to continue normal political activities or not.The AL government did experiment allowing BNP leaders and activists to freely receive Khaleda Zia at the airport upon her return from London recently.The AL leaders now believe the BNP may launch a movement in favour of its demands of the election-time neutral government and the deployment of troops during the elections..AL presidium member and health minister Muhammad Nasim said, “It’s normal in politics that many challenges will arise. Neither of the challenges will be a big deal for the government.”* This report, originally published in Prothom Alo print version, has been rewritten by Rabiul Islam.