Sri Lanka-type agitation threat looms over Bangladesh victory month


The main Opposition in Bangladesh has chosen December to announce a “do-or-die” Sri Lanka-type mass agitation to topple the Awami League Government.

The economic crisis in Sri Lanka led to mass protests, eventually forcing President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to flee the country and resign.

A new Government headed by current President Ranil Wickremesinghe was later appointed to establish stability in the country.

The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), strongly backed by Islamist parties like the pro-Pakistan Jamaat, are trying to capitalise on popular angst over rising food and energy prices, a sharp dip in electricity generation due to a global rise in energy prices, and burgeoning corruption within the Government and ruling party, The Federal reported.

December in Bangladesh is usually a month of celebrations, as the country recalls the surrender of Pakistan’s army on December 16, 1971, leading to the emergence of an independent nation.

The Awami League, which spearheaded the Bengali freedom struggle in what was then East Pakistan, has been in power since it won a clear majority in the December 2008 Parliament polls. All parties accepted that poll as fair and inclusive, and the results were seen as an expression of popular angst with the BNP-Jamaat-e-Islami coalition for its politics of violence and fairly overt patronage of Islamist radical groups. However, the two subsequent national elections have been controversial.

The BNP-Jamaat coalition boycotted the 2013-14 polls after failing to topple the Awami League government by violent street agitations, leaving the road clear for the Awami League. The BNP contested the polls five years later, but withdrew at the last moment, alleging widespread electoral fraud.

Since then, the BNP has derided the Awami League government as an “illegal Government” and said it will be brought down by “people’s power” (violent street agitations to paralyse government functioning).

The Federal reported that though Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has warned of “tough measures to crush” any Opposition attempt to create mayhem, she may find it difficult to use law-enforcing agencies to do that because of the fear of more sanctions. There is constant pressure on the Government to come clean on “enforced disappearances” and large-scale arrests of Opposition activists. (Colombo Gazette / The Federal)

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