Bangladesh polls: Sheikh Hasina wins 4th straight term in landslide victory

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's party Awami League has secured a fifth term after winning two-thirds of the seats in the general elections. Hasina has won a record fourth consecutive term as the country's premier.
Bangladesh polls: Sheikh Hasina wins 4th straight term in landslide victory
Anjali Raj / Jaano Junction

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has secured a record fourth straight term as her Awami League party registered a landslide victory in the general elections, which was boycotted by the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its allies. The polls were preceded by sporadic violence, including setting polling booths and schools on fire.

With this win, Hasina is poised to become the longest-serving Prime Minister in Bangladesh since the country's independence.

Hasina's party has so far won 224 of the 300-seat Bangladesh Parliament, with counting of votes in two seats still underway. The results of 298 seats have so far been announced.

The Awami League has won 224 seats so far, as many as 62 constituencies have gone to independents, and the Jatiyo Party has won four seats. One seat has been won by another party.

"We can call (the) Awami League winner with the already available results, but the final announcement will be made after the end of the counting of votes in the rest of the constituencies,” an election commission spokesman told reporters.

Hasina emerged victorious from the Gopalganj-3 seat for an eighth time since 1986. She bagged 2,49,965 votes while her nearest rival M Nizam Uddin Lashkar from the Bangladesh Supreme Party secured just 469 votes.

Sheikh Hasina, who has been ruling the strategically located South Asian nation since 2009, secured a record fourth consecutive term and fifth overall term in the one-sided election, which witnessed a meagre turnout of 40 per cent. The turnout figure, however, could change after the final count, Chief Election Commissioner Kazi Habibul Awal earlier said.

Former Bangladesh Prime Minister Khaleda Zia-led of the BNP said the party plans to intensify its anti-government movement through a peaceful public engagement programme from Tuesday as it dubbed the polls as "fake."

The BNP boycotted the 2014 election as well, but joined the one in 2018. This time, besides the BNP, as many as 15 other political parties boycotted the election.

The opposition party leaders claimed that the low turnout was evidence that their boycott movement had been successful. They added that peaceful democratic protest programmes will be accelerated, and the people's right to vote will be established through this programme.

Awami League general secretary Obaidul Quader, meanwhile, claimed that the people of Bangladesh rejected the BNP and Jamaat-e-Islami’s boycott of the elections by casting their ballots. "I sincerely thank those who braved the fear of vandalism, arson, and terrorism to participate in the 12th national parliamentary elections,” Quader said.

Jatiyo Party chairman GM Quader won the Rangpur-3 seat in the 12th national parliamentary election.

The 2018 general election recorded an overall turnout of more than 80 per cent.

Despite the largely peaceful voting in this year's polling, officials and the mainstream media of Bangladesh reported at least 18 arson attacks across the country since late Friday, with 10 of them targeting polling places.

Earlier, an election commission spokesman said that other than some sporadic incidents of violence, the voting was largely peaceful in 299 of the 300 constituencies. The Commission suspended polling in one seat because of the death of a candidate.

The election commission cancelled the candidature of a ruling Awami League candidate in northeastern Chattogram at the fag-end of the voting hours as he “scolded and threatened” a police officer.

Accompanied by her daughter Saima Wazed, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina cast her vote at Dhaka City College polling centre soon after the polling commenced on Sunday.

Hasina alleged that the opposition BNP-Jamaat-e-Islami alliance does not believe in democracy. "People will vote as they wish. And we were able to create that voting environment. Although the BNP-Jamaat alliance has caused many incidents, including arson attacks," she told reporters.

In response to a question, Hasina said that India is a “trusted friend” of Bangladesh.

"We are very lucky... India is our trusted friend. During our Liberation War, they supported us not only that after 1975, when we lost our whole family - father, mother, brothers, everyone (in a military coup) - and only we two (Hasina and her younger sister Rehana) survived... they gave us shelter. So, we have our best wishes to the people of India," she told reporters.

In August 1975, Hasina's father, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, her mother and three brothers, along with several other family members were assassinated at their home by military officers. Sheikh Hasina and her sister Rehana survived the purge as they were abroad.

A total of 119.6 million registered voters were eligible to vote at Sunday's polls in over 42,000 polling stations, according to the country’s Election Commission.

More than 1,500 candidates from 27 political parties were contesting in the election, besides 436 independent candidates. Over 100 foreign observers, including three from India, monitored the 12th general elections, which was held under tight security. More than 7.5 lakh members of law enforcement agencies and security forces were deployed to ensure law and order during the polls.

Former Election Commissioner Brigadier General (Retired) Sakhawat Hussain termed Sunday's polls a unique one compared to the previous two elections. "This time the election is taking place between candidates from the same party in the name of independents and dummies. As a result, voters are less interested in the polls," said Sakhawat.

"So, it is a unique model election... Results of the election are certain, everybody knows who is going to win. The only uncertain thing is who will be in the opposition bench," he added.

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Bangladesh polls: Sheikh Hasina wins 4th straight term in landslide victory

On Friday, the UN Special Rapporteur, Clement Nyaletsossi Voule, said he was "deeply disturbed" by the repressive environment surrounding the polls in Bangladesh.

Source: India Today

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