Democratic Institution Building Process in Bangladesh: South Asian Experience of a New Model of a 'Care-taker Government' in a Parliamentary Framework
What did necessitate the constitutional arrangement of an interim government to hold parliamentary elections in Bangladesh? Customarily the incumbent government holds the election and the power is transferred accordingly. In Bangladesh, however, the governments since 1973 ‘managed’ all elections in favour of their own parties. The right of the people to vote freely, fairly, fearlessly and judiciously was undermined by the coercion and terrorism perpetuated by ruling parties or military rulers. As a consequence, an interim care-taker government was designed in order to oversee free and fair elections for a sovereign parliament. The arrangement of a non-partisan care-taker government is the outcome of a long political movement in Bangladesh. Both in 1991 and 1996 the care-taker government made credible strides in the effort of building democratic institutions. Critics in Bangladesh opined, of course, the institution of care-taker government is deemed to a slur on the efficiency and capability of the politicians to be the trustee of the nation; it signals their inability to be worthy to hold a free and fair election; it diminishes people’s confidence in them as well as purports ‘the politicians to become unscrupulous during election time’. Notwithstanding all possible odds, it is fair to count plus points of a non-partisan caretaker government in the following ways: (1) Right of people to vote freely and fairly is established; the voters are not intimidated; elections are not rigged; therefore electoral process attains transparency; (2) Election Commission functions with full freedom to conduct elections; (3) During election time equal facilities are ensured to all political parties; (4) Elections under non-partisan care-taker government keep the government of the day under pressure to be responsive to the nation; and (5) The institution of caretaker government will, above all, act as catalytic agent to help the people of Bangladesh to "learn by practice" democratic culture.
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