Seasons (aka Election 2013: Focussing Our Minds – III)
We have had seven multi-party parliamentary elections since 1970. All of them were in dry seasons — 1986 and 1996 in the summer heat, the rest (1970, 1979, 1991, 2001, 2008) in cooler months. We have had three (1973, 1988, 1996) one-sided elections — all in spring. We have had one aborted election in the winter of 2007.
Reading ADB5′s pieces, it occurs to me that we have never had a parliamentary election in the monsoon.
It makes sense to not have election — a gigantic logistical exercise — in the season where much of our delta is under water.
And yet, if JRahman’s speculation is to be taken seriously, perhaps we will see a monsoon election in 2013?
Think about it. If you want a low turnout election, where the opposition voters are discouraged to come out, isn’t monsoon the season? If you want the foreign media to stay away from the rural hinterland, isn’t monsoon the season? Never mind foreigners, our shikkhito vodrolok susheel folks might venture into Gram Bangla for sheeter pitha or kashfuley prem in other seasons, but who wants to be stranded in the middle of nowhere during the monsoon?
A monsoon election has another advantage.
You see, like elections, our andolons are also seasonal affairs. Not just the seminal ones like 1952, 1969 or 1990, but all major and not-so-major andolons in our history except one took place between October (after the post-monsoon heatwave has ended) and March (before the summer really got going). The only exception was the 6-point movement in 1966. And even Bangabandhu couldn’t get that going!
Being completely oblivious to history, BNP tried one-sided elections in the springs of 1996 and 2007. Bad, bad mistakes. In both cases, AL had stepped up its andolon step-by-step to foil BNP’s plans. Will they hold an election in the middle of the dry, cool seasons?
I don’t think so.
No. Far better to hold the election during the late monsoon, in August. That way, the monsoon months can be used to do your pre-election business. August is also the shok-er maash, so the media can be used to gag dissenting voice as being disrespectful of the dead. Of course, the same media can be used to implicate the Zia family — father, mother, and the sons — in all sorts of misdeeds of Augusts past.
Then, when the election is over, in the Vadro heat where the dogs go wild and humans sit in torpor, any post-election andolon by BNP will be just as vapid as the latest Jenifer Aniston comedy.
Well, that’s the theory anyhow. If BNP can sustain an andolon from August to October, perhaps it will build enough momentum by spring of 2014. But if that happens, it will also be a first in our history.
Will AL take that risk?
It has little choice. Election in the dry, cool months isn’t an option. What about an early election, in the pre-monsoon summer?
Election campaign during loadshedding and water shortages? To ask is to answer the question.
Besides, look at how this summer has played out. From Suranjit to Ilias to Padma bridge, there hasn’t been any shortage of issues. And yet, nothing of substance has happened in the streets because, well, it’s bloody hot….