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Thursday, April 25, 2024

Economic Woes And Political Turmoil

As Bangladesh braces itself for the upcoming national elections in January 2024, the political landscape is rife with tension and uncertainty. The longstanding reign of the Sheikh Hasina-led Awami League faces a formidable challenge from the united opposition, led by the incarcerated Khaleda Zia, demanding a fair election under a neutral government. The recent escalation of opposition rallies and government crackdowns has plunged the nation into a cycle of violence and casualties.

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As Bangladesh braces itself for the upcoming national elections in January 2024, the political landscape is rife with tension and uncertainty. The longstanding reign of the Sheikh Hasina-led Awami League faces a formidable challenge from the united opposition, led by the incarcerated Khaleda Zia, demanding a fair election under a neutral government. The recent escalation of opposition rallies and government crackdowns has plunged the nation into a cycle of violence and casualties. The international community, particularly the US and several Western nations, expresses deep reservations about the human rights records of the Sheikh Hasina regime, casting doubt on the fairness of the impending elections. Meanwhile, neighbouring powers like India and China appear to maintain a pragmatic alliance with the current government, adding complexity to external perspectives on the democratic process.

Amidst these political upheavals, an unexpected but significant factor emerges, resonating with the daily concerns of the Bangladeshi populace—the soaring prices of onions and potatoes. With onions reaching Tk 140 (USD 1.10) per kg and potatoes touching Tk 65-70 (USD 0.60) per kg, these staples have become a focal point of discontent among the citizens. The surge in onion prices is linked to India’s decision to increase the Minimum Export Price, a move that followed a rapid 60% spike in wholesale prices within a fortnight. The potato price hike, on the other hand, lacks a clear explanation, despite Bangladesh’s robust potato production. A recent study by the Bangladesh commerce ministry points fingers at a syndicate of cold storage owners, alleging an artificial scarcity created through manipulation of stocks. The government’s response to this economic challenge has been swift, allowing the unprecedented import of potatoes. India, particularly West Bengal, seized the opportunity to alleviate its surplus and low-priced potato predicament, dispatching over 1,000 tonnes to Bangladesh. While this has mitigated prices in border areas, the impact appears limited in more central regions like Dhaka and Chittagong.

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Critics argue that the government’s inability to control basic commodity prices reflects incompetence, transcending the usual debates on its fairness, corruption, or economic management. The rising prices of essential goods serve as a tangible measure of governance effectiveness, creating a shared concern that transcends political affiliations. In this critical juncture, as international observers scrutinize Bangladesh’s political trajectory, the government’s ability to address economic challenges will undeniably influence public opinion. The high-stakes game of politics intertwines with everyday concerns, shaping a narrative where the cost of onions and potatoes symbolizes more than just an economic woe—it becomes a litmus test for leadership competency in the eyes of the people.

 

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The Hills Times
The Hills Timeshttps://www.thehillstimes.in/
The Hills Times, a largely circulated English daily published from Diphu and printed in Guwahati, having vast readership in hills districts of Assam, and neighbouring Nagaland, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur.
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