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Sunday, July 29, 2012

[mukto-mona] Caretaker Government – Pretext and Experience [1 Attachment]

[Attachment(s) from Sitangshu Guha included below]

Caretaker Government – Pretext and Experience


The concept of caretaker government in Bangladesh is the brain-child of Awami League leader Shekh Hasina's long movement for establishing people's right to vote. First a bill was placed in the Parliament as a result of a mass movement organized by the Awami League for holding elections under neutral non-party caretaker government. It had a strong background for raising such movement. No elections under the BNP regime happened in a neutral and fair manner. Notable among those were the controversial Magura by-election, and the 1996 farcical 15-Feb general election. BNP and its leader Begum Khaleda Zia were vehemently against caretaker government at that time. She (Mrs. Khaleda Zia) publicly uttered, "None but a child and a lunatic is neutral". Against this backdrop, the nation as a whole raised strong protest  movement under the leadership of Bangladesh Awami League and eventually the BNP regime was compelled to accept the reality and the 13th Amendment came into being paving the way for holding elections under non-party caretaker governments for the next 3 elections (from 1996).  


The June 1996 general elections resulted in the change of power and the Awami League was elected as the single majority party. After five years of smooth electoral practices, the AL Government, as per constitutional provisions, handed over power to a non-party caretaker government that managed the 2001 general elections and the BNP-Jamaat came into power through that election.


Since then, the context of the election has changed. During the last three years, various institutional developments have taken place. The Supreme Court, in a landmark verdict has ruled out the provision for caretaker government and accordingly, the 13th Amendment to the Constitution (which paved way for creating Caretaker Government) has now been defunct. In accordance with the Supreme Court judgment, the 15th Amendment to the Constitution has been brought in. Hence, there is no constitutional/legal provision for sustaining caretaker government any more.


During its last three years, the AL led grand alliance has achieved certain successes in electoral reform programmes. Notable among these are: first, the voter ID with photograph have been implemented; secondly, the 12.3 million fake voters' list have been eliminated; thirdly, an independent Election Commission has been constituted through holding dialogue with all political parties (including BNP) by the Hon'ble President. No objection has been raised about this Election Commission by any quarter; fourthly, the Election Commission has now got its own manpower, strength and legal capacity to conduct elections in a free, fair and neutral manner.


Also to be noted, there has not been any interference from the Government in the election process. The major elections held under this Government, notably, by-elections to the Parliament, the Chittagong, Comilla and Narayanganj city corporation elections have been free, fair and very peaceful. In many of the elections opposition candidates won. We may take a look into the following facts:


Sl No

Name of the Election

Number of Elections Held

Number of Seats / Posts won by AL led Grand Alliance/AL backed candidates/Other/Rival candidates

Numbers of Seats/Posts won by BNP led alliance/BNP Backed/Other/Rival candidates


By-Election to the Parliament





City Corporation Election


1 (rival candidate won)




During the present AL Government's term so far, 12 by-elections to the parliament, 3 city corporation elections, 481 upazila parishod (council) elections, 273 paurosova (municipality) elections and 4,406 union parishod (council) elections have been held. All the elections have been held without any sort of interference, and in a free-fair-neutral manner. No malpractices were reported during these elections rather the voters exercised their voting right without any fear and spontaneously. But, if we look back to the elections held during BNP-Jamaat regime, vote rigging, malpractices, creating fear in public mind, repression of minority and marginalized people were a regular phenomenon, which no more exist now.


Due to the entire changed scenario, the demand for the caretaker government is not contextual and there is no need for such demands to generate political hype as being done by the opposition BNP and its alliance. Overall, substantial qualitative and quantitative improvements, both in the Election Commission and in the election process, have made the caretaker system of government redundant. The interim government will perform the routine work of the government, while the election will be conducted by the  Election Commission.    

Attachment(s) from Sitangshu Guha

1 of 1 File(s)


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"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it".
               -Beatrice Hall [pseudonym: S.G. Tallentyre], 190

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