Politics is a matter of discipline. It does not remain politics any more but declines into chaos once politicians or aspiring politicians step out of line. And when the matter is one of such undisciplined politics occurring within a party, the danger is greater, for it tends to generate the kind of dissension which the party does not need. That in essence is the point emerging from Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s appeal a few days ago to those in her party who, having been denied party nominations for the forthcoming general election, have decided to stay on in the race as independent or rebel candidates.
In all fairness, let it be said that the ruling party could have presented a much better show of nominating candidates for the election if it had opted to have some fresh faces on its ticket. We have observed in recent months how some very well qualified people, coming from different professions in their state of retirement, went out all the way to campaign for the right to be chosen as Awami League nominees for the election. At the same time, at the grassroots level, some very dedicated party veterans whose record has been without blemish, could have given the party a brighter image as candidates for the 30 December vote. In the end, however, it was the decision of the senior party leadership to choose the people it thought would be better placed to present the Awami League before the electorate. One does not argue with the right of the party to select the men and women it feels will bring it success at the polling booths.
The question of rebel candidates is not an issue for the ruling party alone since it is something which other parties appear to be grappling with as well. The need is for political leaders in the parties, particularly those who have not been given party nominations, to demonstrate a mature response to decisions made by the party. We have observed in recent weeks how some individuals previously linked with one party or another simply walked into another party to get nominations to contest in the election when they were denied the party nominations they had sought. That is a disturbing trend, for a couple of reasons. In the first place, it is a clear violation of internal party discipline. In the second, it is revealing of the tenuous principles of these individuals who see nothing wrong in abandoning a party for another despite the huge chasm in political ideology between the two sides. Commitment becomes the casualty.