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Problems of Democracy- Lack of Mutual Trust and Tolerance

Mutual trust and tolerance between government and oppositions are two binding principles essential for the proper functioning of democracy in a country. Government has to learn to live with oppositions and criticism and by confronting hostile situation in an understanding manner. Unfortunately, the concept of tolerance seems to be disappearing particularly for those in power. The leaders and party members become intolerant of the opposition and easily irritated by the criticism. Gradually they become paranoid and imagine that the opposition parties and other professional groups have become their adversary.
This culture of intolerance which permeates our polity holds the nation hostage to a confrontational style of politics which is making the democratic process unworkable.[1] If we carefully examine the behavior pattern of the leaders of every ruling party, their reactions and reflections towards oppositions, we find that it was a lack of tolerance that led them to jeopardize the growth of democracy in Bangladesh. For example, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman became so intolerant and arrogant towards oppositions that he not only passed special laws to deal with it but also thousands of opponents were thrown into jail. Ultimately, by bringing the Fourth amendment to the constitution he dissolved all the opposition political parties, banned newspapers except state controlled four, eroded independence of judiciary and turned the country into one party monolithic system. We have seen how Ziaur Rahman punished and eliminated his political opponents through the Martial Law Courts, using the same repressive laws enacted by Mujib. The indiscriminate use of the same laws by Ershad, backed by even harsher Martial Law Regulations, surpassed earlier actions. This was mainly because he had to overthrow an elected government to come to power. During his regime the media was given to understand that newspaper could not write anything against Ershad or his family members. As a result many dailies and weeklies remained closed for months and years for criticizing his actions
[1] Sobhan, Rehman, “Challenging Bangladesh’s Crisis of Governance: An Agenda for a Just Society” Presented Paper at the XV Biennial Conference “ Bangladesh in the 21st Century: The Political Economic Perspectives” of the Bangladesh Economic Association, 8-10 December,2004, Institution of Engineer, Dhaka, p.2