Though they had long been on a movement seeking restoration of an election-time neutral government, BNP and its new alliance Jatiya Oikyafront are unlikely to come up with a promise in their upcoming election manifesto to revive the system if they win the polls.
Talking to UNB, senior leaders of the alliance who are drafting the election manifesto said they will instead make a commitment to strengthen the Election Commission and ensure a strong election system so that people can cast their votes freely in any election and that their voting right is ‘restored’.
They said they are formulating the manifesto incorporating the plans and proposals of all the alliance partners based on the BNP-led 20-party alliance’s ‘Vision-2030’ and the Oikyafront’s 11-point goal and the final version of the manifesto is likely to be unveiled in the first week of December.
Members of the Oikyafront’s manifesto drafting committee already held its maiden meeting on Thursday and discussed the proposals its partners put forward. BNP standing committee member Moudud Ahmed told UNB that there is now no caretaker government system in Bangladesh. “So, we didn’t discuss any issue to make a commitment in our manifesto to restore it.”
In their manifesto, he said, they will first focus on ensuring good governance, government accountability and a functional parliament. “We’ll also promise to strength the democratic organs, ensure independence of the judiciary and press freedom and a healthy democratic political practice in the country, and take steps so that opposition parties can exercise their democratic rights.”
The BNP leader said there will also be promises for the betterment and welfare of youths and increase job opportunities for them.As it will not be possible to give all the youths jobs by the government, he said, they will promise to give them various facilities, incentives and assistance so that they themselves can turn out to be entrepreneurs. Moudud said they will focus on the further expansion of ICT and ensure more involvement of youths in it.
He said they will focus on development of the agriculture sector. “Proper attention has not been given for a long time to expand the sector and ensure the welfare of farmers. So, we’ll describe our detailed plans for the expansion of the sector.”
Moudud said they will also give focus on the development of the education sector and restoring discipline in educational institutions.Besides, he said, they have many plans and proposals for rapid progress of the financial sector and restoring discipline in the financial institutions like banks and share market.
The BNP leader said their chairperson Khaleda Zia in May 2017 presented the 20-party’s ‘Vision 2030’ depicting what Bangladesh they want to see. “The reflection of the ‘Vision 2030’ will be there in Oikyafront’s election manifesto.”Gono Forum presidium member AHM Shafiq Ullah said they are now discussing the proposals of different parties of the alliance and will complete the draft manifesto by this month.
“Later, we’ll share it with all the alliance partners, and then the Oikyafront steering committee will finalise it before making it public,” he said.Echoing Moudud, Shafiq said they have no plan to pledge in their manifesto about the restoration of the election-time non-party neutral government.
He said they will focus on ensuring the rule of law and good governance, improving the life standard of people of all walks of life, including workers and farmers. Nagorik Oikya convener Mahmudur Rahman Manna said there are many good ideas and proposals in the 20-party’s ‘Vision 2030’, and they will make the manifesto based on it and the Oikyafront’s 11-point goal.
BNP-led 20-party alliance’s chief coordinator and LDP president Oli Ahmed said they still do not have any plan to present a separate election manifesto as ‘Vision 2030’ is their main manifesto.An Oikyafront leader, wishing anonymity, said they will come up with some commitments in their manifesto about ensuring a balance between the power of the President and the Prime Minister.
Besides, he said, they may promise to enhance the age limit to 35 for entry into government jobs and reform the quota system after discussions with all stakeholders. “We’ll also promise not to halt any mega project and not to increase the tariffs of utility services,” the Oikyafront leader said.