Vol. 5 Num 400 Tue. July 12, 2005  

Jalil-Mosharraf mini-consensus
Take it forward through a dialogue
Awami League General Secretary Abdul Jalil put forward a proposal at the roundtable organised by Prothom Alo on Sunday that AL and BNP should decide against accepting hooligans and possessors of black money into their folds. Health Minister and BNP leader Khondokar Mosharraf Hossain responded positively to the idea. The two leaders have also agreed to discuss Election Commission reforms with a view to ensuring that the next general election is held in a free and fair manner.

By taking a stand on the issue of musclemen and money power holding sway over the major political parties, they have addressed a vital question of politics and election. It's all the more welcome because they have made such a commitment before some reputed members of the civil society. It reflects a correct assessment of the prevailing political situation in the best interest of democracy. But mere utterances will not take us anywhere; actually to be meaningful these will have to be translated into mutually binding commitments at the highest political level of Awami League and BNP.

We have to say this because we have even heard our top political leaders committing themselves to a sane course of politics time and again but to little avail. There was an assurance from the AL while in power that it would not resort to hartal anymore but once in the opposition they have chosen to forget it. Similarly, political parties saw merit in de-linking themselves from student politics but this too has remained a rhetoric. Only last year, AL secretary general Abdul Jalil and his BNP counterpart Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan had vowed not to patronise criminals for attaining petty party objectives. Apparently, the condemnation of rowdyism was unequivocal, but the parties could not, for some reason or the other, live up to it. Goons still rule the roost.

Abdul Jalil and Khondokar Mosharraf Hossain have indirectly acknowledged the truth that their parties have indeed been relying on the services of goons and black money. This itself is a step forward, let alone the agreement in principle to rid the political parties of the two evils. Abdul Jalil and Khondokar Mosharraf Hossain should now make sure that what they have agreed to is followed up through a full-fledged dialogue leading to bipartisan consensus on ways to weed out black money and muscle power from national politics.