By Barrister Nazir Ahmed

Recently some extreme left oriented political parties are demanding to ban Bangladesh Jammat-e Islami (BJI). Jatiya Somajtantrik Dal (JSD), Bangladesh Workers Party (BWP) and Bangladesh Communist Party (BCP) are vocal on this point. Some ministers of the current government seem to be echoing on this point. I am not a member of the BJI nor advocating for them. Let me make clear first. But I will present some data and statistics. Personally, I am opposed to banning any political party, no matter what it is. Banning a political party, because I do not like it or my party does not like it or the government does not like, is totally against the democratic norms and principles. Political parties, nor matter how extreme or odd ideology it may be or may have, must be dealt with law and true democracy. Let us see and compare the voting patterns/history of the parties that are demanding of banning the BJI. In 1991 General Election, the BCP, WP and JSD got only 1.2%, 0.2% and 0.2% votes respectively. In 1996 General Election, the JSD obtained only 0.2% votes but the BCP and BWP obtained so insignificant votes that their number did not come into the counting of percentage. By comparison, the BJI obtained 12.1% votes in 1991 General Election and 8.6% votes in 1996 General Election. Please note that the BJI only contested in 300 seats in both 1991 and 1996 General Elections held under neutral caretaker governments. In 2001 and 2008 General Elections, the BJI joined the pact/alliance with Bangladesh Nationalists Party (BNP) and contested only 75 [and obtained 4.28% votes] and 39 seats [and obtained 4.70% votes] respectively. Therefore, the 1991 and 1996 General Elections should be the determining factors [yard stick] to calculate/assess the BJI’s popularity and support, for in those two elections they fully contested in whole 300 seats. If we translate 12.1% [obtained in 1991] and 8.6% [obtained in 1996] of the BJI’s votes into 160 (16 crore) million people, their supporter would be 1,9360,000 [nearly 2 crore] and 1,37,60,000 [nearly 1.5 crore]. More than dozen countries can be found in the world whose total population cannot be more than 1 crore! Now, is it wise and prudent to ban a party with such votes and such number of supporters? More importantly, is it logical to heed/vow on the demand of those parties, who combinedly [putting all the BCP, WP and JSD together] could not obtain one fourth of the votes that the BJI obtained in all elections held since 1990s, to ban the BJI? What do the logic, law and conscious dictate?