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Problems of Democracy- Rubberstamp Parliament

An effective and participatory parliament is a sine quo non of democratic governance. But ironically, “Bangladesh’s parliament has become almost irrelevant as a forum for political discourse and decision making”[1] “All the major characteristics of strong legislature are virtually absent in Bangladesh”.[2] All the political institutions including the speaker of the parliament have been politicized and used against the major opposition parties in the country. Main opposition parties have never been consulted by the incumbent government prior to appointing official to major constitutional posts. Since after independence, almost all the parliament acts as a rubber stamp which passed every bill placed by the government without thoroughly examining this bill from the viewpoint of public interests.
The parliament and parliamentary committees have been dominated and monopolized by the ruling government. No space has been left for the opposition political parties to participate and contribute to government system. The opposition is thus left out to the street to face and challenge the government. Unwillingness of the ruling alliance lawmakers to attend the sessions, politician unwillingness to abide by the parliamentary norms and rules, frequent boycott by the main opposition and reluctance of the government to discuss important issues in the house we have not let the 8th JS play an effective role. Comparing with the senses in the previous two parliaments (5th and 7th JS), the current parliament has taken a step backward instead of moving forward in making the parliamentary system of government forward. The current 9th parliament has still not become lively and effective due to non-cooperation of main opposition parties. They have staying away of the parliament till now on flimsy ground of not allocating proportionate seats in the front line of the parliament. In addition to these, discriminatory attitude towards opposition parties, severe quorum crisis over the years, reining of the ruling party lawmakers in some aspects, and absence of significant move to make the parliamentary committee system strengthened have worsened the situation. In fact due to the prevailing non-conducive environment the parliament has not been able to ensure accountability of the government which is a clear contradiction of the parliamentary system of governance. Parliament has performed poorly the key task of legislation, oversight of the executive and conflict resolution and thus has contributed insignificantly in promoting democracy in Bangladesh. With the absence of the main opposition in the house and committee sessions, important pieces of legislation have been passed without much critical insights and constraints. Most of the legislative bills have come out as acts in the parliament as approved by the cabinet- the most powerful committee in a parliamentary system. Deliberations and question and answer sessions in the house have not been lively and effective. The government enacted a good number of laws in the parliament which have substantial impact of the governance of the country as observed earlier.

[1] Rahman, Ataur ‘Determinants of Governance and Political Reforms’ National Workshop on Problems of Governance and Way out, Dhaka, June 7, 2004.
[2] Rahman, Taibur , ‘Governance and Parliament: Does the Jatiya Sangsad Matter in Promoting Good Governance in Bangladesh?’Salahuddin M. Aminizzaman (ed) Governance and Development, UPL, Dhaka, 2002, p. 50