Polling underway in Bangladesh to elect members of its national Parliament

Last Updated: Jan 07, 2024

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Bangladesh, a nation of nearly 180 million people goes to the 12th national election today amid boycott, and fear of violence.  A total of 28 political parties are contesting the election as 1971 candidates are vying for it in 299 constituencies out of a total of 300. The voting will start at 7:30 a.m. (IST) and end at 3:30 p.m. (IST).

Around 12 crore people are eligible voters in this election while the number of polling centres is 42,000 and voting will be held in 2,62,000 booths across the country, said the Chief Election Commissioner of Bangladesh Kazi Habibula Awal in his address to the nation on the eve of polling.

Amidst election fever, unidentified miscreants set a Dhaka-bound Benapole Express train on fire in Dhaka on Friday night which took the life of four passengers on board. According to media reports, at least nine polling stations were set on fire by unidentified arsonists in Chattogram, Gazipur, Mymensingh, Sherpur and Habiganj districts on Friday night and early Saturday ahead of Bangladesh’s general election, scheduled to be held on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party called a countrywide hartal from Saturday morning to Monday morning as part of their movement to boycott the national elections. The major opposition party Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its allies are boycotting the upcoming polls, alleging a free and fair election is not possible under the current government.

The ruling party,  Awami League is contesting 266 seats to seek its fourth term while the remaining seats it left for its alliance partners. Sheikh Hasina led the Awami League and has been in power since 2009. The main opposition party in parliament, Jatiya Party (JP) nominated 265 candidates to run in the electoral race. Including independents, a total of 90 female candidates and 79 candidates from ethnic minorities and other groups are vying in the polls.

About 8 lakh members of law enforcement agencies, including 182,091 from police and Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), 1,155 platoons of Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) members, 505,788 Ansar and Village Defence Party (VDP) members and Coast Guard personnel, have been tasked with ensuring overall security during the elections across the country.

Members of the armed forces were deployed from Wednesday across the country to assist the local civil administration in holding the general election in a free, fair, and peaceful manner. The national parliament of Bangladesh- called Jatiyo Sangshad- has 350 members of which 300 members are directly elected through voting. They serve for a five-year term in single-seat constituencies. The remaining 50 memberships are reserved for the women who are nominated by the government.

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