Mahfuz Emran: The end of the third consecutive term of the present government led by Awami League has witnessed heavy reaction. At this time, the government is under various pressures. On one side, the movement of the opposition parties, on the other hand, the dissatisfaction of the garment workers, dollar shortage, liquidity crisis, abnormal price hike of necessary commodities. Apart from this, the government is under pressure of donor agencies and development partners.
Analysts say things are challenging for the government. However, a quick solution is essential. Besides, the labor movement can take a political turn at any time. So, the current situation has to be dealt with very carefully.
Movement of oppositions
BNP, the main opposition party in the field, started a movement with various parties and alliances on July 12 to demand the resignation of the government. Since then, various programs including road marches, marches, mass marches, black flag marches, sit-in programs, rally-protests have been held in Dhaka and all over the country for three consecutive months.
On October 28, like-minded parties including BNP called for mass gatherings at nine places including Nayapaltan in the capital. But within an hour and a half of the start of the BNP rally, the clash with the police stopped. The party called a hartal if the rally failed. After that, they announced to stay in the field with a three-day blockade program. The blockade program is currently underway.
Along with BNP, Jamaat-e-Islami also called for a blockade after the hartal.
Buses are being burnt every day during strike-blockade. The number of vehicles plying on the road has decreased. All in all, the country is suffering economically.
Dissatisfaction of RMG workers
Meanwhile, the garment workers have been protesting for the last one week demanding an increase in the minimum wage. Their movement has also become violent. Workers of various factories protested in Gazipur since Sunday. Several factories were set on fire and vandalized. Road blockades, clashes with the police and car vandalism are also happening, there are also reports of casualties.
Two workers named Russell Howladar (22) and Imran (30) died in the back-and-forth chase. Demonstrations and attacks on factories also took place in Savar and Ashulia. More than 80 workers were injured in these incidents.
On Tuesday also, the workers protested on the highway in different areas of Gazipur. Traffic on the Dhaka-Tangail highway came to a standstill due to their blockade. Workers attacked a police outpost in Mouchak Bazar area of Kaliakor. Another police box was set on fire in Safipur area.
On this day, garment workers also took to the streets of Mirpur in the capital. There was a three-way conflict between the Awami League leaders and the police with them. As a result of the clashes, 15 buses, two markets, a bank branch and two garment factories were vandalized.
The government has formed a wage board to determine the wages of garment workers. However, no decision has been taken in this regard yet.
Meanwhile, State Minister for Industries Kamal Ahmed Majumdar came under fire while talking to the protesting workers in Mirpur of the capital on Wednesday around 12:40 PM. When he arrived there around noon, the workers raised slogans against him. The state minister left the scene at around 1 pm in the face of the cannon.
Earlier, from 8 am to 9 am, the garment workers took a stand at Mirpur No. 10 goal square. At that time, the traffic in that area was completely stopped. Around 9 am, they moved from Mirpur goal square number 10 to goal square number 14.
Unbridled commodity prices
The picture of the market is reversed even if the prices of potatoes and onions are determined along with the price of eggs. Common buyers have to buy these products at a much higher price than the price fixed by the government.
On September 14, the government fixed the price of potatoes per kg in the retail market at Tk 35 to Tk 36. But, despite the government’s decision, the prices are not decreasing but increasing day by day. In the last four days, the price of potato has increased by at least Tk 10 taka per kg and is being sold at Tk 60 to Tk 70. Forced, the government decided to import potatoes.
On the other hand, domestic onion is being sold at Tk 115 to Tk 130 and imported onion at Tk 100 to Tk 110 per kg in the markets of the capital. But the price fixed by the government is Tk 64 to Tk 65.
In the retail market, the price of each egg is fixed at a maximum of Tk 12, but it is being sold at a higher price. Apart from this, prices of other essential commodities are also rampant. There has been public outrage over this.
Dollar shortage, liquidity crisis
The dollar shortage in the banks have been hampering LC opening since last January, which has turned a serious in October. At the same time, the commercial banks have been facing acute liquidity crisis since last one month.
Anxiety among all
Professor Gobind Chakraborty of Dhaka University’s political science department told that there seems to be a kind of concern among everyone in such a situation. At this time, if all those who are in the government and outside the government play a good role, it is possible to remove the apprehension.
“For the sake of the country, for the sake of the people, the political parties should try so that there is no concern, no apprehension is created. Policymakers can now say what they will do. The government and the opposition parties are protesting together in the field. For good reasons, the government should look at the public interest, so that there is no fear, violence is not created.
Things are challenging
Sabbir Ahmed, another professor of political science department of Dhaka University told that these are challenging for the government. Because, during elections, such sensitive issues, which are related to people’s lifestyle, must be dealt with carefully.
Regarding the labor movement, he said, “Workers’ movement can take a political turn with the fuel of many people. So, there is a problem with these, a quick solution is essential right now. The issue of minimum wages for workers is ongoing. It is natural that they will demand their minimum wages in line with market conditions. The matter should be resolved quickly.
I think it should be resolved before the election. The issue of labor protests before the elections could be a loss for the government. For this reason, it would be wise for the government to take initiative and resolve the problem on behalf of the workers by negotiating with the owners.
On the issue of commodity prices, he said, “The government is serious about this, they are trying.” But not all efforts are successful. There are many reasons for failure. We don’t have the production capacity of some products, the production has reduced, some products are being syndicated, they are being stockpiled. Again, there is a mess in the supply chain of some products. More attention should be paid to these issues.
However, political analyst and former vice-chancellor of the National University Professor Harun-or-Rashid thinks, “The workers’ movement is temporary.” It will be resolved soon. It is true that people are suffering due to inflation. However, the reality is that the general public is not involved with the political program of BNP. That is why their movement is not succeeding, nor will it be.
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