Important initiatives have also been taken at the citizen level which aims to ensure that people on opposite poles pay attention to each other. A report in Time magazine states that there are more than 8000 programs in America whose purpose is to bring people with different ideas together. Some of these are research and university-based, and some are community-based. According to Time, he is bipartisan in character. These organizations include Search for Common Ground, Hope in Cities, Essential Partners, etc.
All members, from within the Congress to those attending university classes and think-tank seminars, are in consensus on one issue: This country belongs to all, not to any one party or tribe. If the country moves on the right path, everyone benefits. If it goes the wrong way, everyone suffers. To overcome the internal crisis in America, red and blue will have to join hands. In a speech given in 2004, Barack Obama said that there is no red America, there is no blue America. We are just one and undivided United States of America. This is as true now as it was then.
Bangladesh is also suffering from the same serious disease as America. Their illness may appear different from the outside, but is fundamentally the same. So if a solution is to be found, lessons can be learned from individuals on both sides of the divide. The first step toward healing any illness is admitting that there is an illness. The Prime Minister of Bangladesh herself said that her government will move forward after learning from past mistakes. We can take this as the first step in accepting that we are suffering from an illness. But stopping here will not help. Practical steps should be taken to resolve political polarization. This requires communication and understanding. Not only professional politicians, but also civil society and common people can play a meaningful role in this dialogue.
The General Secretary of the ruling party of Bangladesh rightly said that the country is facing a three-pronged crisis – political, economic and diplomatic. It will not be easy for the government to easily overcome this three-point crisis. This is exactly what the International Crisis Group said in its pre-poll prescription on how Bangladesh can emerge from this grave disease.
The non-political research organization said the ruling party may be able to hold on to power in the short term, but the opposition will not give up its political opposition. This means that political and economic pressure on the government will increase. There is only one way out of this crisis and that is for the two opposing sides to talk. And it is the responsibility of the people sitting at the center of power to be the first to extend their hand in this direction.
*Hassan Firdous is a writer and columnist
*This column appeared in the print and online editions of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten for the English edition by Ayesha Kabir.