Sorry state of parliament
THE struggle for democracy by an increasing number of countries during the past four decades has resulted in an impressive progress in the attainment of the system of governance, rule of law and human rights. However, it is also conspicuous that in many cases these noble attempts are threatened by crime and corruption, weak public administration, terrorism and lack of accountability. It is in this backdrop that today’s governments, politicians, development practitioners and international agencies are now frequently using the term ‘good governance’. At the same time, they also regard bad governance as major hindrance in the path of democratic rule and social justice. Major donors and international development agencies are imposing good governance as precondition for economic cooperation and other assistance.
Recent empirical findings lend support to the common wisdom that there has been a steady erosion of public faith in politicians and the political system. People felt that politicians had given Bangladeshi democracy a bad name. Strengthening such scepticism has been the sight of political leaders in parliament. Today, the image of parliament that emerges from television is more akin to a boxing ring. Some would attribute the bedlam to the nature of Bangladesh’s polity.
In contrast to the dour and forbidding manner of its Western counterparts, the Bangladesh parliament is seen as a lively reflection of the country’s socially and culturally diverse polity. And yet, parliament must function with a minimum consensus or risk being reduced to irrelevance in the public eye, with the attendant danger of popular disillusionment with the democratic process itself. Unfortunately, the rot may be already running too deep, with parliament habitually lurching from session to session, with bills and debates on key issues taking the backseat to noisy protests and walkouts.
Before every session, the speaker makes a fervent appeal to all political parties for cooperation in conducting the proceedings smoothly. But this has become more of a ritual today. Only during obituary references is parliament calm.
When the live telecast of parliamentary proceedings began, everyone hoped that our representatives would behave better and discharge their duties more responsibly as the people had an opportunity to see them in action. But our MPs hardly seem to bother about public opinion.
Unfortunately, most people with a vision and a broad outlook do not enter politics for obvious reasons. In fact, many do not even cast their votes. Unless we break this vicious cycle, there will be further deterioration in the political scenario.
The quality of politics and politicians has declined alarmingly. The manner in which politicians conduct themselves — disrupt proceedings, force adjournments and clash in parliament — is deplorable. Parliament, a pillar of democracy, has been reduced to a sorry state. It is time for urgent measures to arrest this decay. The treasury and the opposition benches must come to a minimum agreement on running parliament — if not for improving their own public image, at least for the sake of Bangladesh’s democracy.
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