By Jyoti Rahman.
Published in BDnews24 on 22 April 2010.
Like all by-elections, Bhola allows new opportunities for the opposition as well as the ruling party to prove their case. But this piece argues that there is also the risk of over-interpretation.
Published in the Nation, 26 February 2009.
Elections have always been a tumultuous affair in Bangladesh. December 29, 2008, was no different. On that sunny winter day, more than 70 million lined up to vote, and heartily replaced a two-year-long state of emergency with a parliamentary government.
January 12, 2009
THE ninth parliamentary elections in Bangladesh saw a landslide victory for the Awami League. The high-turnout election also saw Bangladeshi voters turn away from the BNP and its alliance partner, Jamaat-e-Islami.
The Jamaat, which had captured 17 seats in the 2001 parliamentary elections, was reduced to 2 seats in the 300-seat parliament in the 2008 elections. For Jamaat in particular and religion-based politics in general, it was a resounding electoral defeat. Continue reading
Published in the Forum on January 2009
In the election of December 29, 2008, voters unequivocally rejected nationalist politics — the BNP-led alliance garnered around 37 per cent of the votes cast, against the Grand Alliance’s approximately 57 per cent. But what caused the collapse in the nationalist alliance’s support? Most post-election analysis of the BNP politics explores this question. Another question speculates on what will the BNP leadership do after this debacle?
The focus of this piece is broader than just this election, the recent past, or the near future. The aim is to explore what might happen to nationalist politics — by which I mean the political coalition put together by Ziaur Rahman in the 1970s, and its successors in the subsequent decades — over the coming years. Continue reading
Published in the Forum on January 2009
The Awami League has won the National Election 2008 by a stunning landslide for many solid reasons including some indefensible faults of its opponent. In a pre-election analysis Jyoti Rahman and I identified five decisive factors which were likely to determine the results of this election.1
In the absence of a credible exit-poll, this article revaluates those determinants and correlates them with the final election results to see exactly what happened on December 29, 2008. Continue reading
Publised in the Daily Star on 31 Dec 2008.
WE have made history! Not only in the national context, but also in the global context. Just when many were thinking that our country was increasingly falling within the grip of Islamic fundamentalists and that their religion-based fear-mongering campaigning was working, the people of this nation have spoken with decisiveness.
Published by the Daily Star on 30 Dec 2008.
8:00 We arrive at City College punctually. But, hmm, looks like everyone else had the same idea, only half an hour earlier than us. The lines are long and snake around the corner. On women’s line I spot Khushi Kabir (Nijera Kori), on men’s line Anisul Hoque (Prothom Alo). Bujhlam, they’re my neighbours in Dhanmondi.
Published in Guardian December 30th, 2008
Two miracles happened in Bangladesh yesterday. Firstly, 80% of the Bangladeshi electorate – a record number – voted in one of the most peaceful elections in the country’s history. Secondly, they voted for a party that believes in secularism and by a majority big enough for it to control 85% of the parliamentary seats.
It’s a resounding endorsement of democracy and an emphatic victory for pluralism in the world’s second-largest Muslim majority country. Although International media finds it easy to do a stereotypical portrayal of the “dysfunctional two begums“, the real story of Bangladesh, however, is in the details.
Published by the Daily Star on 29 Dec 2008.
STANDING at many intersections. What were the arguments in favour of secularism? In the 1960s, a push-back against West Pakistani colonisation. In 1971, it was simply and joyfully, a decisive rejection of the Pakistan model. Later in the 1980s, it was also expanded to explain that religion was for private space, inner life, spiritual healing; but not for politics. Now in this decade, we also insistently emphasise that religion is to be respected (because secularism’s critics falsely accuse it of being anti-religion), but it should not be involved in the running of the state.