Experts find AL, BNP manifestos positive but largely appeasing


Desk Report:

Political analysts have found the election manifestos of the two major parties — Awami League and BNP — highly positive for the country’s future development, but expressed doubts about the implementation of those as the commitments are largely appeasing.

They, however, think the Awami League manifesto is relatively pragmatic as the party formulated it based on its previous successes while find the BNP’s one lacking clear description in some cases about execution.

Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) Executive Director Dr Iftekharuzzaman and former Dhaka University Vice-chancellors Dr AAMS Arefin Siddique and Prof Emajuddin Ahmed came up with the remarks while talking to UNB hours after the two parties presented their respective manifestos.

The political experts also criticised BNP for skipping the issue of war crimes trial in its manifesto since its alliance Jatiya Oikyafront pledged to continue the trial if it is voted to power.

AL President and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday unveiled the party’s 21-point manifesto promising to ensure urban facilities in every village and use the potentials of youths for the progress of the country with the slogan – ‘Bangladesh on the march towards prosperity’.

BNP also presented its 19–point election manifesto with a set of promises, including making democracy an everyday practice, building a vengeance-free Bangladesh and raising GDP growth to 11 percent.

Earlier on Monday, Jatiya Oikyafront rolled out its 35-point election manifesto with various promises, including ensuring the balance between the power of the President and the Prime Minister, and introducing upper house in Parliament, to restore people’s ownership of the country if it is voted to power through the upcoming election.

Dr Iftekharuzzaman said the election manifestos of Awami League, BNP and Oikyafront look very good and positive, but translating their commitments into reality is the main thing.

He said the Prime Minster, while unveiling Awami League’s manifesto, called upon people to kindly consider if any mistake was made by her government. “I think her such call is a positive signal for politics as our politicians hardly regret their mistakes.”

Iftekhar said there are many positive things in Awami League’s manifesto and the party deserves appreciation for it. “One positive thing I would like to highlight is that the ruling party has pledged to ensure participatory and inclusive development. The development won’t be sustainable and meaningful without the participation of all people.”

He said ensuring freedom of expression, press freedom and getting rid of politicisation and corruption are important to ensure inclusive development, progress of the country and implementation of the pledges of the political parties. “A reform in our constitutional institutions is also necessary to strengthen those.”

About the manifestos of the BNP and Oikyafront, the TIB Executive Director said there are very encouraging commitments in their charter of pledges such as making the practice of democracy an everyday affair, but doubts remain there whether they will be able to implement those.

He said their pledges for scrapping the black laws like Digital Security Act and creating jobs sound good.

Iftekhar also said Oikyafront’s announcement to form a truth and reconciliation commission to investigate and resolve the enforced disappearances, extrajudicial killings and false cases filed in the last 10 years is very positive. “It’s a good idea, but why won’t the commission look into those beyond the period.”

He also said BNP did not give specific explanation over its some pledges such as how they will attain 11 percent GDP growth.

Dr AAMS Arefin Siddique said Awami League formulated its manifesto imbued with the spirit of the Liberation War with its far-reaching plans to develop the country.

“There’s a new dimension in the manifesto that Awami League has formulated all of its future plans based on its previous success. I think the party’s work plans for development of all sectors have been reflected in the manifesto.”

Dr Arefin said the party’s future plans have also been made considering the current situation of the country and present condition of every sector.

He said maintaining stability and a peaceful atmosphere after the election is necessary to properly implement the manifesto. “I think most of the pledges of Awami League are implementable if a favourable situation prevails in the country.”

About BNP and Oikyfront’s election manifesto, the DU ex-VC said their work plans are good but it is a matter of big question whether they will be able to implement those. “We’ve seen the misrule and anarchy during the BNP-Jamaat’s previous rule.“

Dr Arefin also questioned the intention of BNP as it placed a separate manifesto with some differences with Oikyfront’s one. “Jatiya Oikyafront pledged to continue the war crimes trial but BNP avoided the issue which has made people confused,” he observed.

He said both BNP and Oikyafront made some ‘hollow’ pledges such as keeping no age limit for government jobs and introducing unemployment allowance for the educated jobless persons above the age of 30 to attract people, but they did not give any explanation about their implementation.

Prof Emajuddin Ahmed said BNP and Oikyafront pledge to spend 5 percent each of GDP for the education and health sectors. ”I think it’s a very positive initiative to ensure quality education and good health for people. I found most of the pledges highly positive and the country’s fate will be changed drastically if 60 percent of those are implemented.”

He also thinks checking corruption and removing politicisation, nepotism and strengthening the democratic institutions are must to implement the pledges.

Prof Emajuddin, however, declined to make any comment on the ruling party’s manifesto as he still did not go through it. unb


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