THE ROLE OF THE CHIEF WHIP AND OTHER WHIPS IN THE BANGLADESH PARLIAMENT
Whips in the Parliament of Bangladesh do not have to worry about their Members voting the party line; but they do have to focus on keeping opposition Members in Parliament for the good of parliamentary democracy, says the Government Chief Whip.
Vice-Principal Mr Md. Abdus Shahid, MP, in Dhaka. Mr Shahid is the Chief Whip of the Bangladesh Parliament. He was first elected to Parliament for the Awami League in 1991. A management graduate, he pursued a career in teaching and now is a member of the Senates of two public universities, National University and Dhaka University. He chairs several parliamentary committees and government institutions.
After the birth of Bangladesh as an independent nation in 1971, the Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, established parliamentary democracy in the country following the Westminister parliamentary system. The Parliament of Bangladesh is a unicameral Legislature consisting of 350 Members, including 50 reserved seats for women, elected from single- Member constituencies. The concept of whipping was
inherited from the colonial British rule where the Whips played a very active role in the effective management of Parliament. About the role of the Chief Whip and other Whips in the British Parliament, Erskine May’s Parliamentary Practice says: The efficient and smooth running
of the parliamentary machine depends largely upon the Whips. Certain duties are common to Whips
174 | The Parliamentarian | 2012: Issue Three
Mr Md. Abdus Shahid, MP
of all parties; but by far the most important duties devolve upon the Government Chief Whip. Realizing its importance, the
whipping system was introduced in Bangladesh’s Parliament but with some changes. Here both the ruling and the opposition parties appoint a Chief Whip and other Whips who are responsible for the party’s discipline
and behaviour of Members on the Floor of the House. The Government Chief Whip and other Whips are appointed from among Members by the President, as proposed by the Prime Minister. Usually they direct the party Members to stick to the party’s stand on certain issues and direct them to vote as per the guidance of the senior party Members. The Chief Whip of the ruling party is the key person in the management of the House.
A senior advisor Similar to the whipping system practised in the Indian Parliament, the Chief Whip is directly responsible to the Leader of the House. As M.N. Kaul and S.L. Shakder put it in Practice and Procure of Parliament: “The Chief Whip is the eyes and ears of the Leader of the party so far as the Members are concerned.”