The 90-day countdown for holding the general election has started.
With some major issues like election-time government, army deployment, or parliament dissolution remaining unsettled, the major political parties are engaging in dialogue.
Under the constitution, the next national election must be held within 90 days before the five-year term of the current parliament expires on January 28.
Despite opposition demands, ruling Awami League has rejected demands for a nonpartisan government, saying the election will be held under its government.
Now, all eyes will be on the dialogue between alliance leaders of Jatiya Oikyafront when they pay a visit to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina tomorrow.
WHAT ARE THE PRESSING ISSUES?
The most pressing issues before the elections are mode of election-time government, parliament dissolution, use of electronic voting and role of army.
The size of the government during the election remains unclear.
The prime minister and some of her cabinet colleagues have said the polls-time cabinet will carry out some routine work only and provide all assistance to the EC to hold the polls.
Another unsettled issue is the deployment of army during the election. While the ruling party is against it, opposition parties are saying army is mandatory for fair election.
While the cabinet has already endorsed the necessary amendments to introduce electronic voting, what has been a concerning point due to fears of rigging, will may soon see passage through the parliament and into the polling booths.
WHAT IS THE SITUATION ON THE GROUND?
the ruling Awami League men are already campaigning across the country well in advance although the opposition parties need permission from the police even to hold rallies.
In addition, thousands of BNP men across the country have recently been sued in hundreds of “fictitious” cases, putting them in the back foot.
Political analysts and opposition leaders described this as an “absence of a level playing field” for all political parties, which is key to a fair election.
The AL and the BNP, who lead two major political alliances, may also face some challenges in sharing parliamentary seats with their partners. Many party nomination-seekers would have to make sacrifice to keep the alliance partners happy.
Also, both parties have multiple aspirants in most constituencies. The situation is more difficult for the ruling party as it has faced intra-party conflicts in some constituencies where its grassroots leaders took stance against AL MPs.