Of course, political parties are crucial in multiparty-based politics. According to available sources, there are around forty registered and more than forty unregistered political parties in Bangladesh. Some political parties have more political committees while others have fewer committees. Mostly, major political parties have more committees and their committees are spread from the national to the union or ward levels. Of course, all political committees of different parties are not comprised of good political leaders and all political leaders do not bring good to the people, community and country always, even if there are differences at the tiers of political committees — national, district, or local levels. Thus, a relevant question can be raised on the relevance of the number of committees.
Undeniably, political committees are needed for any political parties for their political functioning. Unsurprisingly, different political committees have different roles and responsibilities. Of the diverse committees, the central committee of any political party is the main committee and is responsible for overall political activities including participation and completion in elections. Other committees including the student wing, youth wing, farmers’ wing, workers’ wing and women wing have some specific party-based political agenda, roles and responsibilities. Some committees act at the national level while some others work at the district, or sub-district, or union, or even ward levels. In elections at the national, city corporations and local levels and other political activities including political demonstrations, different committees play important roles from the national to local levels.
But, as indicated already, political party members do not bring good outcomes always, although a portion of political leaders is doing good or serving better to the people, community and country. As is often criticized, a portion of leaders of the political committees — elected as representatives or not — at different tiers are engaged with harmful activities including corruption, land-grab and extortions and bring harmful effects to others and the respective parties. On some occasions, harmful activities at different tiers become too gross. Usually, leaders at the central committees have the ability to bring harm to others at the national level but other leaders and activists including those at the local level at other levels. Since there are many committees or sub-committees at different tiers, the possibility of diverse harmful acts by a significant portion of political leaders and activists at the national, district, city corporations, or local levels is, thus, high.
Notably, of the diverse political parties, the ruling party is usually involved with diverse harmful acts, even if political leaders and activists of other parties including oppositions can be engaged with such acts to a lesser extent by making a good link with the ruling party leaders. But, of course, I need to further note that harmful acts by the ruling party leaders at different tiers have not suddenly become a reality in Bangladesh, these have been going on for decades with differences. Consequently, no specific ruling party is to be blamed alone. These are rather problems of the political culture of the country. More specifically, these reflect some important aspects including the political culture of the misuse of power, the political culture of might, a tendency to earn money as much as possible especially when in power and a mentality to show political hegemony at different tiers.
Thus, a question remains on how many political committees are needed for politics. Of course, it is an important question concerning the politics of Bangladesh. More political committees mean a higher level of political manipulation of power from the national to local levels, the presence of cadre-based politics and, as already noted, a higher possibility of harming others instead of bringing better outcomes as desired. Consequently, different segments of people, including those who are not directly involved with politics, get a limited scope or are deprived of their deserved rights on diverse fronts. The countless number of ill-intended political leaders at different tiers, moreover, reduces the significance of other important persons at national, regional, or local levels and, on many occasions, leads to decayed norms and values. Indeed, social justice once carried out by local elites is now done by political cadres resulting in money-based settlement of controversies in the locality.
A reduced number of political committees is, therefore, desired for Bangladesh. In this respect, reformations are needed in political committees. In my view, political committees deserve to be reduced to a certain extent. Along with a national central committee, district-level central committees, students’ wings, youth wings and some other crucial wings may be considered. But, at the sub-district level, only a central committee, along with a central students’ and youth committee may be considered. From each union at the sub-district level and each ward at the city corporation level, a few leaders may be made representatives attaching them with the sub-district level central committee. Of course, political committees or wings may be reduced by any other more acceptable means. But ad hoc political committees may be formed, especially at the time of elections and different sorts of national crises, with party supporters.
But another vital question can be raised on whether the reduced number of political committees can make any trouble in political functioning. This is obviously not. I would rather like to ask: why should there be any trouble in politics with the reduced number of committees? Since there is no problem for forming ad hoc or temporary political committees at different tiers in elections and national crisis moment and given that all political parties, especially major parties that have more committees, reduce the number of political committees, there can be no problem in doping politics at all in Bangladesh. In fact, political committees are fewer in number in many other countries and those countries are still doing politics including participation and winning of national and local level elections.
More importantly, the reduced political committees will lead to good outcomes, though it does not necessarily mean that the leaders of political committees, who can also be elected representatives at different tiers, will bring good always. Indeed, the reduced number of political committees can improve the political culture of the country, reduce political manipulation of power and/or widespread corruption, make politics largely free from cadre-based politics, give more space to others including those who are not directly involved with politics and bring many other positive impacts that can lead to improved overall social conditions. But for generating the desired roles and responsibilities from political leaders, there is no alternative to good political leaders at different tiers. For this, political parties should select those leaders as the members of committees and nominate those for elections who have genuine qualities of political leadership and can envision bringing the desired changes and establishing good norms and values at the national, regional and local levels.
To generate the desired outcomes with the reduction of political committees, political parties with party-based mechanisms, moreover, should make sure that the members of political committees including local committees — alternatively saying, sub-district level committees — cannot do harmful activities with the manipulation of political power or linkage. Notably, I am not against political committees. Political leaders are, indeed, undeniable for leading the country from the front, but my position is that politics should not engulf other important aspects of the people and the country including social. The time probably has come to re-think politics and re-shape it in a much better way through reducing political committees, placing good-minded leaders at party positions and nominating well-intended leaders for elections.