Bangladesh main opposition party BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia unveiled “Vision 2030” on Wednesday, a set of proposals she said her party would implement if voted to power in the next national polls, for transforming Bangladesh into a “democratic and high middle-income” country.
If “Vision 2030”, made up of 256 proposals, is implemented, the country’s per capita income will rise to $5,000 from current $1,466, and it will achieve a double-digit annual growth rate by 2030, according to the BNP.
Addressing a press conference in the capital, Khaleda said, “The BNP will implement it [Vision 2030] by forming the government through a victory in the next parliamentary polls to be held under a neutral administration.”
The next general election is expected to be held in January 2019. The BNP has to win the parliamentary elections for three consecutive times to execute the vision.
Besides, the constitution has to be amended for implementing many of the proposals. Two-thirds majority in the House is needed for amending the constitution.
The BNP’s proposals include the ones for curbing the prime minister’s “monolithic” powers, examining a plan to introduce upper chamber of parliament, restoring the referendum system and reviewing constitutional changes brought by the Sheikh Hasina-led Awami League government.
The party also promised to put a stop to political interference in law enforcement agencies and take up reform programmes for the police and public administration.
It also pledged to appoint ombudsman, allow opposition lawmakers to head some important parliamentary bodies, and take measures to stop extra-judicial killings.
Formation of a select committee and supreme judicial council for transparent appointment of Supreme Court judges, “freeing lower courts from government control”, introduction of jury system in lower courts and repeal of all black laws, including the Special Powers Act, are among the proposals.
“Implementation of our vision is difficult but not impossible,” said Khaleda.
Khaleda Zia said her party is committed to upholding the national interest and building a liberal democratic society where freedom of expression and the rights of citizens are protected.
The BNP doesn’t believe in confining people’s power to the Election Day alone. It wants to be true to the hopes and aspirations of the people, she said.
“The BNP wants to nurture a political culture that will transform Bangladesh into a ‘Rainbow Nation’.
“The party wants to combine 3 Gs — ‘Good policy’, ‘Good governance’, and Good administration’,” she added.
BALANCE OF POWER
The BNP chief proposed amending the constitution to curb the PM’s powers. The current provisions regarding the PM’s power were restored in 1991 when Khaleda was the PM. She became premier thrice since then.
Khaleda now says the existing constitutional provisions vest all executive powers of the republic in the hands of the PM, and that this system is completely inconsistent with the recognised form of the parliamentary system.
In order to bring an end to this, the executive powers of the republic will have to be balanced through an appropriate constitutional amendment, added the BNP chief.
UPPER CHAMBER OF JS?
On the introduction of a bicameral parliament, Khaleda said it would be examined whether upper house of the Jatiya Sangsad may be introduced keeping intact its existing unitary character and the structure of the constitution.
Some “undemocratic” articles and sections were incorporated in the constitution such as the system of holding JS election keeping the erstwhile parliament alive. And the power of impeaching judges of higher judiciary was vested in the JS, she added.
The party has also focused on ways to ensure democracy, good governance and economic transparency in the country.
If voted to power, the party would make sure that all constitutional and statutory bodies are rid of partisan men.
The party would see to it that the judiciary, public administration and the police enjoy the freedom to discharge their responsibilities.
ON THE JUDICIARY
The BNP chairperson alleged that there is no transparency in the process of appointing judges.
“In order to ensure competence, merit and transparent process in the appointment of judges of the higher courts in the light of the constitution, a law will be enacted laying down the competence and standard through a Select Committee and Supreme Judicial Council.”
Lower courts would be “freed from the control of the executives” and a separate secretariat under the Supreme Court would control them. Jury system would be re-introduced in lower judiciary on a pilot basis to make the judicial process transparent, speedy and acceptable, she said.
The BNP chief also pledged that a high-level judicial commission would be formed to reform the existing justice system.
FREEDOM OF PRESS
Khaleda said the BNP always welcomes constructive criticism.
The party would constitute a commission headed by a former SC judge. Renowned educationists, eminent citizens, IT specialists and veteran journalists would be made its members.
A policy for the print, electronic, and online media — acceptable to all — would be adopted on the basis of the commission’s report, she said.
The controversial Section-57 of the ICT Act would be repealed, she stated.