Bangladesh Hasina Confidently Enters Fourth Term
A supremely confident Sheikh Hasina took oath of office on 7 January with an overwhelming vote of confidence by the masses in the Jatiya Sansad polls.
President Abdul Hamid administered the oath to Sheikh Hasina as prime minister of Bangladesh government for the fourth time a rare feat that will see her in power for 15 years consecutively and 20 years in total when she completes the current term.
Hasina also selected fresh faces for the cabinet which was also sworn in at the Darbar Hall of Bangabhaban, some of them like Dipu Moni, a former foreign minister returned to the cabinet after a hiatus of five years as the education minister.
The cabinet now comprises of 24 ministers, 19 state ministers and three deputy ministers. Some heavy weight old times as Amir Hossain Amu, Tofail Ahmed, Mohammed Nasim and Matia Chowdhury were dropped and are likely to be accommodated in other gubernatorial posts later. Two technocrat ministers were also selected from the four who resigned prior to the elections.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina led her alliance to a landslide victory in the general elections winning 288 Seats and decimated the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) which has won only seven seats while three have gone to Independents.
While Hasina has been feted by many World leaders, The United States, the European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom have urged Bangladesh’s Election Commission to investigate reports of irregularities in parliamentary polls and condemned the violent period of campaigning. Will they go beyond these statements and pursue the opposition charges of widespread rigging remains to be seen? For Prime Minister Hasina with the EU and the US being the largest markets for Bangladesh their approval will be essential and what measures she takes towards the same remains to be seen?
The opposition BNP for now appears completely marginalized with only five seats in the parliament, Chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia and the Vice Chairperson and son of Khaleda Tarique Rehman who is in exile in London awarded long jail sentences.
Many party cadres deserted in the last couple of years but there was a flicker of hope amongst the core support base with large numbers opting for the Party nomination for the 11th parliamentary polls. These too may now leave the BNP for greener pastures.
If these developments sustain than the BNP and its support base comprising of right-wing conservatives and the Jamaat e Islami Bangladesh which has lost registration with the Elections Commission may be marginalised.
Bangladesh may see the emergence of a one-party government for some years to come much on the lines of Singapore where the People’s Action Party (PAP) is in power ever since independence.
But in the volatile politics of Bangladesh it is better to wait and watch?
For now a supremely confident Sheikh Hasina took oath of office on 7 January, on a day where garment workers were on the road protesting in Dhaka, with one of her ministers remarking that standing by the manifesto is the only challenge.