‘Selective’ opinion polls harming country : Says Gowher Rizvi , The Daily Star, 17 February 2014

Date: 16 February 2014

International Affairs Adviser to the Prime Minister Dr Gowher Rizvi yesterday said the country was being harmed for constantly raising issues based on “selective evidence” from opinion polls regarding the political situation and recent national elections.

“By constantly raising issues based on selective evidence from opinion polls, I think, we’re doing ourselves a self-disservice,” he told a seminar at the capital’s Brac Centre.

Reminding all of the constitutional compulsion, Gowher said pushing for fresh polls, by setting deadlines, was creating instability when the country needed respite and stability. “…but saying it has to be held by 20th of June, 10th of March, 19th of December…it’s creating instability…the very instability that the election has put an end to.”

Bangladesh Enterprise Institute (BEI) arranged the seminar, “Good Governance in Bangladesh: An Agenda for the Future”, with its President Farooq Sobhan in the chair. Canadian High Commissioner in Dhaka Heather Cruden also spoke at the inaugural session.

The adviser came up with the remarks when Cruden referred to a recent poll of the International Republican Institute (IRI) that claimed majority of Bangladeshis believe the country is headed in wrong direction and non-participatory elections fall short of public expectations.

Gowher said everybody was aware of the limitation of the elections, and all were aware that there were certain constitutional compulsions. “We’ve to understand this compulsion…ultimately whether an election is valid or invalid it’s dependent on the acceptance by the people.”

The adviser said the present government was giving priority to strengthening democratic institutions to ensure good governance. The government will be focusing on decentralisation so that the local government institutions can function more effectively, he said.

Earlier, the Canadian envoy said the nature of the elections, in which 153 seats were uncontested, and which left a large part of the nation feeling disenfranchised, meant that the prevailing peace and stability might not last.

“You don’t need to take my word from it; this is what Bangladeshis are saying. As revealed in a recent poll by IRI, 59 percent of those surveyed think Bangladesh is on the wrong track; 71 percent think violence will get worse in the next year; 61 percent believe new elections should be held within a year,” she said.

At the same time, she said, it was also clear that Bangladeshis rejected the use of violence as a political tool. “The consequence is that Bangladesh’s successes over the last 10 years, its consistent economic growth and truly remarkable social development are at risk.”

Despite all the discussions around elections, Cruden said it was also important that elections were also only one part of democracy. “I believe that most Bangladeshis realise this.”

About good governance, she said it required honest and diligent work from political leaders, bureaucrats, independent institutions, civil society and media. “Government and political leaders have an important role to play in delivering good governance. But they cannot do it alone.”

She also said, “But ultimately, good governance is not something that Canada or any other development partner can bring to Bangladesh. This is a challenge that can only be overcome by Bangladeshis.”

Source: http://www.thedailystar.net/city/selective-opinion-polls-harming-country-11703