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AL likely win poll amid opposition boycott

Staff Reporter:

Bangladesh is holding the 12th Jatiya Sangsad (parliamentary) election today with the ruling Awami League’s victory is almost guaranteed for a historic fourth consecutive term amid oppositions’ poll boy-cott.
The main opposition BNP and several other parties are sitting out of the polls, which are being partici-pated by the Awami League and 27 other political parties.
Thanks to the opposition boycott the AL is expected to sweep the polls to again form the government and extend its 15-year rule for another five years until 2029, according to analysts.
The opposition is staying out of the race after Sheikh Hasina’s government rejected its demand to trans-fer power to a non-partisan administration to oversee a free and fair vote.
In a new development in the country’s electoral history the ruling party is facing tough fight mainly from the party’s own members contesting as independents.
In a televised address to the nation wrapping up her election campaign on Thursday, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina appealed to the voters to go to polling centers early in the morning. She asked them to cast their ballots for boat, her party’s election symbol.
But the opposition BNP and its like-minded parties have called for a 48-hour hartal (general strike), in-cluding on the Voting Day.
Security has been stepped up across the country after a series of arson attacks on polling centers and fire on a moving train, Benapole Express, on Friday night that left four people, including children charred to death.
On Saturday, election officials fanned across the country to reach election materials – except ballots – to the polling centres, said the EC. The ballots, however, will be sent to the centres in the morning of the voting day.
The balloting will start at 8am and continue till 4pm non-stop in 299 out of the country’s 300 constitu-encies. Voting in Naogaon-2 constituency has been postponed following the death of an independent contender, according to the Election Commission.
Some 1,970 candidates, including 436 independent contenders are running in the general election.
In 80 to100 constituencies, tough fights are expected to be seen between AL candidates and its own ri-vals who are running as independent contestants.
The ruling party nominated candidates are vying in the election with ‘boat’ symbol in 266 seats, while the party is sharing 26 seats with Jatiya Party and six seats with three partners of its 14-party alliance – three for Jasod, two for Workers’ Party and one for Jatiya Party (JP-Manju).
There is no AL candidate in Barishal-4 and Cox’s Bazar-1 as the candidacies of its nominated contestants were cancelled in the two constituencies. AL MP Pankaj Nath as an independent candidate is running in Barishal-4 and Kalyan Party Chairman Syed Muhammad Ibrahim in Cox’s Bazar-1.
Jatiya Party nominated contenders are officially contesting in 265 seats. The 265 JP candidates include 26 ones who are vying for the election as candidates of the AL-led alliance. However, some Jatiya Party contestants have unofficially quitted the electoral race.
Out of 44 political parties registered with the Election Commission, 16 parties are out of the electoral race.
There are 11,93,32,934 voters –-6,05,92,197 males, 5,87,39,889 females and 848 transgenders – who have voting rights under 260,856 booths of 42,024 polling stations in the constituencies, according to the EC.
In the today’s election, some 10,000 polling stations are being considered as vulnerable centres (though the Election Commission called such stations as important polling centers). The tighter security measures have been taken for the vulnerable polling stations.
Some eight lakh security men are there on election duty to maintain the electoral atmosphere by check-ing violation of codes of conduct throughout the country.
Of them, 38,154 Army personnel, 2,827 Navy personnel (19 districts), 44,912 (1151 platoons) BGB personnel, 2355 (70 platoons) Coast Guard personnel, 600 Rab teams and 95 Rab reserve teams, 174,767 police personnel and 5,14,288 Ansar men.
Besides, 653 judicial magistrates and some 2,000 (1970) executive magistrates are in the field to punish the violation of electoral code of conduct.
According to the Election Commission, some nine lakh polling officials including 42024 presiding of-ficers, 260,856 assistant presiding officers and some 522,000 polling officers are there to cast the ballot throughout the country.

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