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Bangladesh: Change in election campaign method

New Delhi, Wed, 24 Dec 2008 Kazi Mohoshin Al Abbas

Bangladesh was freed from the state of emergency just a week before, but in reality the nation is still running through an extra constitutional governance system under an interim government, backed by the military. Almost two years ago, in a chaotic political situation this military backed interim government came into power and emergency was being imposed.

The nation along with the international community is eagerly waiting for a democratic political government as parliament poll is being scheduled on December 29 of this year.

Despite heavy fog and chill winter, the contesting politicians are passing busy time in their respective constituencies. Most of the heavy weights are walking over the region they belong to and the top leaders like Bangladesh Awami League (AL) President Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) Chairperson Khaleda Zia and former military autocrat and Jatio Party (JP) Chairman HM Ershad are running over the country to boost up the morals of their supporters.

It is the election of 9th parliament in Bangladesh. In this poll there are few fundamental changes in campaign mood and method. Here should be mentioned that there is no election clash reported over the period of election campaign started. Once the walls of towns and cities were the important spaces for election campaign, today there are no wall writings observed as the Election Commission (EC) has barred to do so.

Moreover, people are observing that political parties concerned are complying with EC provision, which is a new phenomenon in Bangladesh. No posters mounted on walls, light posts and trees, rather single-colour posters of the candidates are flying in the air those are hanged by rope.

There is another thing to be mentioned that huge rally was one of the essential parts of election campaign in Bangladesh whether it is local or national. The major expenditure of election campaign was allocated for the show-down in all election held before in the country. However, in the running election campaign no candidates are arranging mass gathering as EC has outlined a limit of expenditure on the basis of voter-number. As a result, no chaos has been observed.

Instead of fighting on the streets, the leaders, workers and supporters of important political parties are rushing to the doors of voters and engaged in organising small processions in the constituencies.

People are waiting to use their voting rights on December 29. They want to see that the atmosphere is good enough to vote without fear and influence. People are also waiting to see some changes in governance culture. It is known that people of Bangladesh is closely related to politics. They had seen the military autocracy, practice of democracy in feudal or autocratic manner and a two-year long emergency under a military backed interim government. Political observers believe that changes in the campaign mood and method are the indication of changes in the political culture of the nation.

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