BNP’s futile rhetoric

Expecting constructive criticism from opposition

BNP Vice Chairman Shamsuzzaman Dudu has recently been sued for “issuing a death threat to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina” during a TV talk show. Dudu issued the death threat to the PM during a talk show titled “Raj Kahon” on DBC news on Tuesday where he said that “Hasina would leave the way Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman did”. 

The BNP leader’s such statement has created panic among people. One does not need to study Political Science to understand that by issuing such threat, Dudu is trying to hatch a conspiracy against the PM. Hatching any conspiracy against the premier is tantamount to hatching a conspiracy against the state and that’s why the BNP leader has been sued. What Dudu said is unexpected, futile and pointless. It is clearly a life threat to the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Indeed, such an approach exposes BNP leaders’ lack of acumen in terms of using rhetoric.

Over the last few years, social media and television talk show have emerged as a weapon for seditionists to express dissent and spread propaganda. As a result, the news of people being arrested over sedition charges has been a very common phenomenon which has compelled the government to formulate new laws and embark upon an intensive and intrusive surveillance and monitoring of social media. But nothing has been done to restrain people from using threatening and abusive language in talk shows. 

However, in order to monitor the attempts of sedition on internet-based social media services, in October, last year, the government formed a monitoring cell to detect spread of rumors on social media, including Facebook. Many including journalists say such monitoring and punishment over sharing information has been weakening our freedom of expression as a nation. 

If so, then how could a BNP leader use such threatening language in a national television channel? By saying “Hasina would leave the way Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman did” Dudu not only disrespected the countrymen and Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman but also his fellow politicians. 

What is noticeable here is, Dudu could talk like this against the PM only because there is absolute environment of freedom of expression in the country. This fact negates their claim that the opposition cannot talk freely. Had there been censorship, Dudu’s words would not have been aired for public consumption.   

In Bangladesh, false news and propaganda have long been used as an instrument for creating violence by the anti-liberation forces. We have seen how after August 15, 1975 the BNP and Jamaat distorted the history of our Independence and the true story of the Father of our Nation. 

BNP and Jamaat used these distortions to justify making war criminals ministers, besides giving the killers of Bangabandhu indemnity and choice postings. Also in recent times we have experienced conspiracies made by anti-liberation forces to hinder the country’s development and defame the government. In this regard, we must not forget that when exciting information plays the role of sedition, we must devise necessary actions to hold those persons to account who are responsible for manipulating information and instilling anti-state propaganda

BNP and Jamaat used these 

distortions to justify making 

war criminals ministers, besides 

giving the killers of Bangabandhu

 indemnity and choice postings

Scrutinizing the sedition law and the recent arrests over the violation of sedition law, it can be stated that a plethora of people in the country including intellectuals are becoming seditionists without being aware of the Victorian era law. And those seditionists who are informed about the sedition law may know loopholes in it as they do not hesitate to spread hatred against the lawful authority without any concrete allegations.

Dissent and criticism are essential to democracy, and strongly recommended that law enforcement agencies use the sedition law judiciously and only when it is evident that the accused aims to disrupt public order and overthrow the government by use of violence. 

American President, Abraham Lincoln termed democracy as a form of governance ‘of the people, by the people and for the people’. Democracy in Bangladesh is designed in accordance with the British governance where lawmakers are elected from constituencies, where each and every person above 18 years enjoys their voting rights. The first principle of our democratic system is that the party or group of parties having majority has the right to form the government while the rest sit in opposition. Existence of opposition both as an alternative government and as critic of government is a significant feature of democratic system. 

Opposition assumes an important role in parliamentary democracy for smooth running of the same.  Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina always welcomes the criticism of the government from the opposition saying that it is crucial in democracy. The premier pledged that her party will not create any barrier to this end.

Opposition has a right to question and get those answered by the party in government. They are also crucial for putting pressure on the government and getting some works done through them. We hope the opposition will play its due role in criticizing the role of the ruling party so that the government can act accordingly to ensure good governance. But the criticism has to be constructive and importantly, should not be the tool to spread propaganda and hatred.

Sayeed  Hossain Shuvro 

is Editorial Assistant, Bangladesh Post