Voice of Time: BNP has been holding programs across the country for some time. Clashes with the ruling Awami League. Being attacked. But the field is not leaving.
How to evaluate the political position of BNP?
Haroon-or-Rashid: As UK has Labor Party and Conservative Party, India has BJP and Congress, so here we can have Awami League vs BNP. But it has some prerequisites. What they need is to leave the anti-liberation war Jamaat forever. Two. Embracing the ideals and spirit of the liberation war. Three. Paying tribute to Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Four. Trusting the judgment of the people. If BNP can do this, then they will have a chance to move forward as a responsible party. Whether Khaleda Zia or Tariq Rahman is in charge or not.
If these issues are not observed, I do not see any way out of the crisis of BNP. But I think it is difficult for BNP to do that. Because the people they do politics with, on whose foundation BNP stands, have Pakistani ideology in their brains.
Voice of Time: Where is the BNP crisis?
Haroon-or-Rashid: BNP has two types of crisis – one is a crisis of political ideology, the other is a crisis of leadership. But BNP seems to be learning some lessons. They don’t speak much against India anymore. It used to say too much.
If there is no Zia family in the leadership of BNP, if others come to the leadership and if they think that we will do politics in parliamentary style; Don’t do bombings, terrorist activities, then they have to give a test. People have to be convinced through work that I have changed, I am a democrat now. If the people see terror and riots again, they may turn their backs on BNP.
There is some dissatisfaction among the people. When a government is in power for three terms, some discontent is already created. But still there is no alternative before the people. Jamaat-BNP cannot be an alternative.
Voice of Time: So what will BNP do?
Haroon-or-Rashid: I think it will be beneficial for BNP to say goodbye to terrorism ahead of the upcoming elections. Trying to hold meetings democratically. They have to participate in the election with all their strength. People will decide who to vote for in the election. If that election is rigged, then the whole world, the media – everyone will see. No one can stay in power by doing injustice.
Voice of Time: You talked about public discontent. So the next election will be easy for Awami League?
Haroon-or-Rashid: I think, in the next election, the grand alliance will be formed under the leadership of Awami League and it will be activated. This time Awami League government is running. The next time will be the grand alliance.
Jamaat is not registered with Election Commission. But their understanding with BNP will be somehow. In some constituencies, Jamaat will contest independently without standing under the party banner. There will be an agreement with BNP. BNP will also try to take some new parties with it. Nagarik Oikya, Adhikar Manch, Left Alliance—they can form an alliance.
Dr. The unity front led by Kamal Hossain last time will not happen this time.
Voice of Time: There is some dissatisfaction in the 14 parties led by Awami League. Will it affect the formation of the alliance in the next election?
Haroon-or-Rashid: 14 Even if there is some discontent among the parties, it can be reduced. The reasons for the formation of 14 parties are not over. These reasons will come to the fore more and more in the coming days. I think that 14 parties will be united in the next election. The unity of the forces of the liberation war is especially useful for the Awami League.
Voice of Time: What is your assessment of the future of Awami League as a party and the challenges ahead?
Haroon-or-Rashid: Awami League is the oldest political party in the country. Their belief in secular ideals. However, the personal belief of many people in the party is a different matter. Bangabandhu had two goals—to make Bangladesh independent and to bring smiles to the faces of the suffering people. Now there are many in the party, whose ideals have deviated. Bangabandhu’s ideology was sacrifice, not enjoyment. But they give importance to enjoyment. They are running after money. But there is hope, there are millions of ordinary workers of Awami League all over the country, who will not go to power one day, but they will hold the ideology of Bangabandhu. These are the strength of Awami League. After 1975, when the pressure or injury on Awami League was overcome, then there is no doubt about Awami League.
Voice of Time: In that case, who or what will be the future leadership of this traditional party?
Haroon-or-Rashid: Who will lead after Sheikh Hasina, this is it! Problems may not arise during this period. But this question will come up in the next term. I think, a big party like Awami League must have this plan.
Voice of Time: What is your analysis of the future of BNP?
Haroon-or-Rashid: A version of this political movement, formerly the Muslim League and Jamaat, is the BNP. Bangladesh is divided into two streams. A section of the country is communally minded, anti-India, hard-left, who are basically pro-China. This part is mainly led by BNP. As a result BNP will survive more or less as a movement. That is why BNP has survived for 17 years even after being out of power. Their hope is Tariq Rahman.
How many fundamental questions can be seen when discussing BNP. What is their position on the liberation war? Do they want to practice democracy, or want to be in power – that is the big question. The terror they did in 2014-15 is not possible even for any fascist party. They have committed a great sin. They are now atoning for that sin.
Voice of Time: How can BNP get out of their crisis?
Haroon-or-Rashid: I do not see the way out of BNP’s crisis. If Tariq Rahman’s wife is brought forward, it is possible to fill a kind of void. Tariq Rahman is sitting in London. No one has forbidden him to come to Bangladesh. So why not come? If you want to do politics, you will not have the courage! If you do politics, you must have courage. I’ll be comfortable, safe, and a leader—it doesn’t happen. There is no possibility of Tariq Rahman becoming Khomeini. There was a revolution in Iran, after which Khomeini went and took the leadership. This will not be the case with Tarek Zia. Tarek may have Khomeini in his ideological thinking, but in reality it is unlikely that he will return home victorious.
Voice of Time: There has been another unrest in the National Party. What kind of shape will the party get before the next election?
Haroon-or-Rashid: The National Party is likely to split into two factions. A faction led by GM Quader will play an anti-government role. Part of the leadership of Roshan Ershad is likely to contest the elections with the ruling party.
Voice of Time: How do you see the future of Jamaat and Jatiya Party?
Haroon-or-Rashid: Jamaat has no future in Bangladesh politics. In the 1996 elections, they won three seats by voting alone. Their total votes fluctuate between 6-7 percent. What was in the Pakistan era, is still the same.
The National Party will be divided. They will become more powerless than the previous days. As Bhasani Nap was once, Jatiya Party will be like that in future. Many of Jatiya Party will come to Awami League.
Voice of Time: How about the next election? BNP is adamant not to hold national elections under party government. Awami League wants to hold elections under the current system.
Haroon-or-Rashid: The election in 2014 was very one-sided. BNP wanted to prevent that election. Candidates in 153 constituencies were elected unopposed. It is legal, but it cannot be called a participatory election in any sense.
But after this election the government remained in power for five years. That means people have accepted it. If the people were discouraged, the government would not be in power. People are so angry because of the misdeeds of BNP-Jamaat that they did not go against the Awami League government. But people don’t even want to go to vote.
Earlier elections were a festival. In a word, BNP-Jamaat has ruined this environment. Ziaur Rahman is the father of the culture of terror in Bangladesh politics. BNP-Jamaat has made it permanent. As a result, Awami League and its opponents, which are running in this country, will not find amicable position soon.
Now we can talk about how to reduce it, at least come to a close position and organize elections. The Prime Minister said that the upcoming elections will be participatory. I also think that the uncontested election in 2014 should not be held in Bangladesh.
We have to make the election in the beginning of 2024 participatory. If participatory elections are not held again and again, it will have an impact on the society. We have made tremendous progress in the economy. Now it is important to establish a democratic culture in our political arena, so that institutions stand strong even if individuals do not.
The next election needs to be free, fair and competitive in the national interest, even in the interest of the Awami League. It will also depend on the opposition party. If they say, we will not go to the elections, then no one can bring them to the elections by force. They have to participate in the elections. Then we will understand whether the election was fair or not. When a fair election is possible under a party government, we can say that our political system has gained strength.
Voice of Time: thank you
Harun-or-Rashid : Thank you too.