The ruling Awami League has come back to power with a stunning mandate in Bangladesh. The party has won 288 out of 300 seats up for grabs in the polls held on Sunday. The opposition, unsurprisingly, is accusing the incumbent prime minister Sheikh Hasina and her party of indulging in blatant rigging. Neutral observers, too, are saying that the electoral process was far from free and fair. However, it is highly unlikely that Ms Hasina will be brought under the domestic and international pressure needed to concede the opposition’s demand for a re-election.
In the last decade of her rule, Ms Hasina has had a mixed track record. While Bangladesh’s economy has surged ahead, her record on human rights leaves a lot to be desired. The GDP growth rates have clocked over 6% since 2011 and the growth hit as high as 7.86% in the last fiscal year. The poverty rate has been slashed considerably and the country is now the world’s second largest garment exporter after China. Even as Bangladesh is on the brink of shedding its tag of ‘least developed country’, the government has crushed all opposition forces in the country. The Awami League has blunted the BNP’s advantage among Islamist factions by itself pandering to Islamism. To be sure, Ms Hasina has cracked down on terrorism but has actively harassed journalists, arrested opposition leaders and remained passive to the killing of bloggers.
India prefers Ms Hasina despite some efforts, of late, by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) to mend ties with New Delhi. The BNP’s reluctance to sever its ties with pro-Pakistan Jamaat-e-Islami – around two dozen Jamaat candidates contested on BNP’s ticket on Sunday – has come in the way of any fruitful discussion with India. With Ms Hasina now as the unchallenged ruler, New Delhi would do well to quietly remind her from time to time to keep her Authoritarian Instincts in check for the greater good of democracy in her country.
First Published: Dec 31, 2018 16:54 IST
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