The current unitary parliamentary republic governance system in Bangladesh is run by a unicameral legislature known as the Jatiya Sangsad (National Assembly).
The current Jatiya Sangsad is made up of 350 deputies. 300 MPs are directly elected from parliamentary constituencies in general elections based on the first-past-the-post electoral system. The remaining 50 seats are allocated to female parliamentarians based on the proportion of overall seats won by each party in parliament; for every six general seats won, a party is awarded one women’s seat.
The Jatiya Sangsad can be understood as a successor institution to the Provincial Assembly of East Pakistan and the Legislative Assembly of East Bengal. If one analyzes the historical background of the Jatiya Sangsad, one can observe that the parliamentary structure of Bangladesh resembles more a provincial legislature than an independent republic.
Since liberation in 1971, the republic has oscillated between presidential and parliamentary systems due to the continuous phenomenon of regime oscillations in Bangladesh. However, the highly centralized unitary-unicameral construction of the Bangladeshi state has remained unchallenged by all regimes that have prevailed in the country. The latest attempt at decentralization was made by General Hossain Mohammad Ershad through the Local Government Ordinance which introduced the upazila (sub-district) and union parishad (union councils) system as the administrative units of governance in Bangladesh.
It is important to note that Bangladesh has experienced tremendous political and demographic changes since its genesis. In 1970, the former East Pakistan had a population of 65 million – today Bangladesh has over 165 million.
I argue that a sovereign country of such size cannot be effectively governed by a unitary-unicameral legislative chamber of 350 MPs. Therefore, Bangladesh should transform its political system into a bicameral federal republic.
For Bangladesh to become a federation, the current eight administrative divisions; Rangpur, Rajshahi, Mymensingh, Sylhet, Dhaka, Khulna, Barisal and Chittagong – plus the two new provisional divisions of Meghna and Padma are set to be converted into 10 new autonomous provinces.
The population of these new provinces will be larger than that of many countries in the world. Each of these new provinces should have its own: provincial assembly, capital, chief minister, cabinet, governor, secretariat, police force, civil service and bureaucracy.
The most important benefit of decentralization will be the reduction in population growth in Dhaka city. The creation of new provinces will create a large number of job opportunities outside of Dhaka. This will remove the need for migration from outlying regions to the country’s capital.
It will also encourage reverse migration for those who find it difficult to keep up with the cost of living in Dhaka to other parts of Bangladesh. This will inevitably lead to a crowding-out effect in Dhaka, thereby easing traffic congestion and the housing crisis in the capital.
The parliament of Bangladesh should consist of the Jatiya Sangsad as the lower house and a Senate as the upper house. Senators should be elected indirectly through the 10 provincial assemblies. There should also be permanent seats reserved for women, non-Muslims and non-Bengali tribal minorities.
I also suggest that the first-past-the-post electoral system be abolished in Bangladesh and replaced by proportional representation elections. This will allow political parties to win seats using the support they have across the country or province rather than being limited to certain regional strongholds.
It will also reduce the dependence of political parties on local power brokers and the petty bourgeoisie who have the financial resources to finance electoral campaigns in the constituency.
In conclusion, this massive overhaul of Bangladeshi state building necessitates the repeal of the 1972 constitution in favor of a brand new constitution which would ultimately have to be approved by the people of Bangladesh through a free and fair referendum. fair.
The second republic that I am proposing should be officially called the “Federal Republic of Bangladesh”.
In order to achieve Shonar Bangla (Golden Bengal), a major reconstruction of the republic is a sine qua non. It will be dangerous for Bangladesh to continue to operate in the anarchic manner it has demonstrated over the past half century.
Anish Mishra is an expert analyst of South and Southeast Asian domestic and foreign policy. He is a doctoral student at the Institut für Politische Wissenschaft (IPW), Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences, University of Heidelberg, Germany. He can be contacted at [email protected]