Bangladesh elections: Sheikh Hasina celebrates victory as opposition rejects ‘sham’ polls

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First Published 31, Dec 2018, 9:44 AM IST
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Bangladesh elections Sheikh Hasina celebrates victory as opposition rejects sham polls
Highlights

Polling began in Bangladesh on Sunday amid tight security. However, several constituencies witnessed violence and at least 15 people, mostly from the ruling Awami League, lost their lives. 
 

Dhaka: Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has secured a fourth term with a thumping majority on Monday after the Opposition alliance, which won only seven seats, rejected the voting by claiming it as rigged and demanded re-election.

Hasina’s Awami League-dominated alliance won 287 of the 298 seats.

In 2014, the main Opposition party Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) boycotted the polls after winning just six seats.

What happened in 2018 elections?

Voting began in 299 parliamentary constituencies of Bangladesh at 8 am on Sunday amid tight security, following a week-long campaign by parties which was marred by violence.

In spite of the fact that 600,000 security personnel were deployed to maintain peace and order, at least 15 people were killed in election violence in different districts.

Due to clashes, not only polling got suspended in several constituencies, but Opposition parties boycotted the election in several states.

Among the deceases, while eight were said to be leaders and activists of the ruling Awami League, one person was identified as a leader from the Jatiyatabadi Jubo Dal.

An Ansar member was also killed in the poll violence. The Bangladesh ministry of home affairs administered Ansar Bahini is a paramilitary auxiliary force responsible for maintaining internal security in the country.

Places like Noakhali, Rangamati, Chattogram, Cumilla, Rajshahi, Natore,Tangail, Narsingdi, Bogura, Brahmanbaria, Gazipur, Sylhet and Cox’s Bazar witnessed clashes on Sunday. Twenty-five candidates included Jatiya Oikyafront, boycotted the election citing irregularities.

The Oikyafront candidates who boycotted the election are Mohammad Shahjahan (Noakhali-4), Fahim Chowdhury (Sherpur-2), Mahmudul Haque Rubel (Sherpur-3), Mia Golam Parwar (Khulna-5), Sunil Shuvo Roy (Khulna-1), Abul Kalam Azad (Khulna-6), Rafiqul Islam Bakul (Khulna-3), Azizul Bari Helal (Khulna-4), Mir Ezaz Khan (Khulna-1), Principal Iqbal Hossain (Pabna-5), Gazi Nazrul Islam (Satkhira-4), Moniruzzaman Montu (Nilphamari-2), Prof Azizul Islam (Nilphamari-3), JM Nurur Rahman (Barishal-4), Rumana Rashid Kanak Chapa (Sirajganj-1), Rumana Mahmud (Sirajganj-2), Abdul Manan Talukder (Sirajganj-3), Maulana Rafiqul Islam Khan (Sirajganj-4), Masud Rana (Bagerhat-1), MA Salam (Bagerhat-2), Abdul Wadud (Bagerhat-3), Abdul Alim (Bagerhat-4), AKM Nasir Uddin (Shariatpur-1 and Shafiqur Rahman Kiron (Shariatpur-2).

Another independent candidate, identified as Salma Islam (Dhaka-1), boycotted the election.

They claimed that members from the ruling party captured polling stations and barred voters from casting votes.

Serious allegations 

Jatiya Oikyafront chief Dr Kamal Hossian on Sunday accused the ruling party of stuffing the ballot boxes even before the election started.

“According to reports from outside Dhaka, votes have been cast overnight unlawfully. It is very disturbing that voters are being deprived of their right,” he said.

Hossian made this remark while addressing the media after casting his vote at the Viqarunnisa Noon School centre.

Another leader from BNP alleged that the Awami League activists, with the help of law enforcers, rigged votes at several polling stations.

“AL cadres didn’t allow our polling agents to enter many centres across the country. As per the information that I’ve received till 11 am, they rigged votes in 20% of the polling stations,” said BNP senior joint secretary general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi.

The BNP also told the Election Commission that its polling agents were obstructed in 221 constituencies.

“Our polling agents are being intimidated and obstructed while entering voting stations. In some cases, they are being driven out from the polling stations or being arrested,” BNP joint secretary general Moazzem Hossain Alal told reporters.

Contradictions

However, the ruling Awami League has a completely different story to tell.

They said that the elections ended largely without conflict.

Awami League joint general secretary Jahangir Kabir Nanak said, “In the 47 years of Bangladesh, I believe this election had the least conflict.”

He also said that the election was more or less peaceful, free and fair other than some unfortunate incidents, which were ‘largely insignificant’.

Nanak also pointed fingers at the Opposition parties for the violence on Sunday.

“We had been worried for some time that BNP and Jamaat would suddenly do something at the end. This is why we repeatedly warned the people of Bangladesh. But, thanks to the state of alert among the people and law enforcers, they were unable to conduct any significant sabotage,” he said.

He told media that 10 activists from his party had lost their lives in the clashes. “The violence led to the death of 10 Awami League activists and injury of 55 others. Bomb attacks occurred in six places, 10 vehicles were set on fire, seven presiding officers were hurt and several polling centres were attacked.”

Nanak also criticised BNP and Jamaat activists for standing by the elections when they win and boycotting it when they lose.

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