Introduction : Conflict-consensus dialectic is a fundamental datum in all politics. Consensus on fundamental issues is one of the main features of developed political systems. On the other extreme, conflict does exist in large number in the developing societies. In Bangladesh, the aimless and valueless politics has become the order of the day. Today the whole nation is divided into two hostile camps like a stationary boat in the mid-sea with two sets of oarsman rowing in opposite direction with equal ferocity. Negativism, intolerance, violence and above all, autocratic tendency have become the invariable contents of our political activity. Thus, getting rid of such national imbroglio is a must to make the nation developed and prosperous. Areas of confrontation : The confrontation among the political parties and groups has escalated from small issues of a procedural and administrative nature into a confrontation over vital issues as peace treaty in CHT. However, the major areas of confrontation involve as under:
1. Pro-liberation and anti-liberation forces : The nation is now sharply divide, as Awami League term, into two hostile fronts proliferation and anti-liberation. In Spite of active participation of the founder and many other leaders of BNP in freedom war, AL term the party as anti-liberation force while they claim themselves as the only pro-liberation force in the Country.
2. A vision of history : Tragically, the parties remain most divided over how they view the past and particularizing the role of key people in our history. BNP is not ready to recognize Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as father of the nation while AL did not recognize Ziaur Rahman as announcer of Independence.
3. Relation with India and Pakistan : An area which remains particularly contentious relates to Bangladesh’s relation with India and Pakistan. Charges of “selling out the country to either country are being frequently treated by the opposition against the incumbent government.
4. Different notion of national identify: At the intellectual level, AL and BNP differ regarding our national identity. AL believe in Bengali tionalism whereas BNP, as introduced by Zia, believe in Bangladeshi votionalism. Constitutionally our nationalism is settled to be Bangladeshi.
5. Religious orientation: Religious sentiments are being used frequently in our politics. AL is confrontational to Islamic religious groups but preferred by Hindus. Thus, BNP always maintains a closer relationship with religious groups and parties.
6. The Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT): During last AL regime, the issue of CHT peace treaty was an issue of major confrontation. The opposition was to brand Hasina as an enemy of the nation for signing the treaty whereas AL was to blame opposition as anti-peace, anti-liberation forces. However, the difference here appear to be on emphasis rather than substance.
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Nature of confrontation
It is not irrational that different parties may have different views and stands regarding different issues of national importance. But in parliamentary democracy, they must have tolerance and mutual respect to each others view. Unfortunately, mistrust and misunderstanding have become the pervasive characteristics of our politics. Discussion of confrontational character of politics may involve following aspects :
1. Reciprocal treatment to each other: Reciprocal treatment to each other is a disgusting trend in our party politics. When BNP was not accommodative to Awami League in their previous tenure of office, AL treated the BNP as they themselves were treated when in opposition. BNP as an opposition played the same role as AL played before. Both of them boycotted parliament, called hartal, created violence and so reciprocally.
2. Little respect to rationality: The rationalistic value of the confrontation in our politics is zero. Irrationality, egoism and jealousy predominate rational political behavior. The comments, treatments and activities of our politicians reveal that they have no respect to rationality or they lack the knowledge of rational dealings.
3. No mutual trust: There is no mutual trust among the politicians of our country. They do not trust each other due to the fact that their commitment to democratic transition is not strong. They do not mind each other as two players in the same ground rather two enemies at war.
4. No respect to institutional mechanism: The political parties in our country have no respect to institutional mechanism of rather they prefer street. They prefer violent street agitation instead of peaceful deliberation. Opposition parties do not value the parliament rather to unseat the incumbent government Su attitude towards institutional political dealings result into viola instability in politics.
5. Irresponsive comments and shoutings: The political leaders in country sometimes throw irresponsive, slanderous comments against each other which are not only immoral but also dangerous for democracy and deliberation. Such irresponsive interpersonal attacking, slanderings create an inflammatory political atmosphere in the country.
6. Criminalization of politics: Terrorism and violence are the reflections of political corruption in our country. Here, the terrorists are party workers, corrupt officers are their collaborators. Thus, terrorists with the help of party leaders, and corrupt administrators and security forces are doing whatever they want. They keep themselves out of any prosecutions and show their allegiance to their patrons. Although the parties blame face other for terrorism and corruption, in fact, all of our parties have terrorist groups which they use to tackle their opponents.
7. Intransigent attitude: Honourable President Shahabuddin pointed out that “in our country no politician or party will ever confess their faults, never budge an inch, there will be no recognition ever if the other party did a good job.” So, it is unfortunate that an environment of tolerance and cooperation has not been created in our coun main characteristics of our political parties are to blame each other, abuse each other in harsh languages and invoke the bitter past all the time.
8. Intolerance: In our politics, the government’s approach to criticism is that whatever the opposition says or does to them, they will compliment with interest. On the other hand, the opposition tends to oppose only for the sake of opposition. Such negative attitude of government and opposition is mainly responsible for making the deliberation impossible.
Measures necessary for consensus
The measures that may help to create a congenial atmosphere and build consensus in our politics: involves the following:
1. Conciliatory leadership: A conciliatory leadership is must for building consensus among political parties and groups. Our leaders should realize that they are not only the leader of a particular party but the leader of the nation. They are not each other’s enemy rather players in the same political field.
2. Face to face talks: Face to face talks between the central leaders is expected to dispel misgivings from their minds. On many issues, political leaders may talk at private as well as public levels. The talks could be informal as well as formal. Talks with open mind could solve many grievances even at the private level decision.
3. Inter-party meetings: Meetings between and among major parties may work as an avenue for national dialogue outside parliament. Frequent
inter-party meetings may help consensus building among the parties.
4. Consensus on issues of national interest: There should have consensus among the political parties on issues of national interest as curbing corruption, to root out terrorism, keeping parliament alive, helping in the developmental activities, foreign relations, and so on.
5. Due respect to parliament and other institutions: Our political leaders should pay due respect to parliamentary democracy and parliament should be considered as the main ground of national politics. Besides, they should have due respect to law and judiciary. Parties in opposition should not consider street as an alternative to parliament and parties in power should not ignore the opposition rather value their rational criticisms.
6. Role of think tanks: Like a third party mediation, the think tanks may propose the politicians to put aside the national fundamental fissions issues for the time being. After examining the strong and week points of the issues of conflicting parties, they could make a minimum common agenda for both the parties. So, their neutral efforts to bring national leaders in the table of discussion may help to create a congenial atmosphere in our politics.
7. Media : Print and electronic media have an important role in the consensus building. Newspapers can form strong critical public opinion on particular issues. Media can increase accountability of politici ruthless attacks on their wrong acts.
Observation: Although, confrontation among political parties is prevalent in our politics, however, the dividing line between two major parties, i.e.AL and BNP appears rather narrow. Thus, consensus among the political parties is not a sheer dream which is evident from the facts discussed under:
First, all the political parties in our country have realized that they must go along the path of election to capture power.
Second, provisions for caretaker government has made the neutral election a possibility through continuous effort to create congenial atmosphere for transformation of power.
Third, people of the country have shown their eagerness to democracy through their negative response to confrontational politics as hartal, violence, corruption, terrorism etc.
So, it is the responsibility of the nation as a whole to make wholehearted efforts from a unified stand to build the nation both politically and economically.