Banglapress Desk : The voting for the 11th parliamentary elections got underway on Sunday amid a climate of fear and alleged intimidation of opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party-led alliances by ruling Awami League and police.
Awami League president and prime minister Sheikh Hasina cast her vote at the Dhaka City College centre Shorty after voting began at 8:00am.
Opposition alliance Jatiya Oikya Front leader Dr Kamal Hossain cast vote at Viqarunissa School around 9:00am.
BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir cast his vote in Thakurgaon Govvernment Girls’ School centre.
Our correspondent reports that the votes Udayan Higher Secondary School centre in Dhaka’s Fuller Road area are being taken in a controlled environment amid police, Ansar and Bangladesh Chhatra League cordon, reports our correspondent.
Ansar men equipped with long sticks had cordoned the centre while the presence of voters was thin till 8:54am.
Total voters of the centre are 2083 but some 70 voters were cast around 8:54am, said presiding officer Md Babul.
Ashfaq Niloy, a first time voter, said he was forced to show his vote to the ruling party men in Nakhalpara Primary School Centre.
‘They are forcing people to vote in front of them. When my turn came an officer was present, so they allowed me to enter the booth. But when I came out I had to show them who I had voted,’ Ashfaq told New Age.
Our correspondents said police barred them from entering in several polling stations in the capital.
United News of Bangladesh reported, authorities were forced to suspend the voting in a polling station at Noakhali-2 as miscreants snatched away ballot papers and other voting materials.
A total of 10,42,38,677 voters — 5,25,72,365 male and 5,16,66,312 female — are listed to exercise their franchise as the polling began 8:00am will be continued until 4:00pm without any break in 299 constituencies out of 300 seats.
Election to Gaibandha 3 was suspended following the death of a candidate.
Some 1,861 candidates including 1,733 persons nominated by political parties and 128 independent candidates are contesting the polls.
Of the partisan candidates, 282 are contesting the polls with BNP’s electoral symbol sheaf of paddy, 272 with boat symbol of , ruling Awami League, 175 with Jatiya Party’s symbol plough and highest 298 candidates with Islami Andolon Bangladesh’s electoral symbol hand fan.
Candidates of some partners of both BNP- and AL-led alliances are contesting the polls with their own symbols.
Of them, four candidates are of Liberal Democratic Party, five each of Krishak Sramik Janata League and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Bangladesh, 15 of Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal-JSD (Rob), two of Bangladesh Jatiya Party-BJP, 10 of Khelafat Majlish while one of Bangladesh Kalyan Party candidates is contesting the polls with BNP’s sheaf of paddy.
Three candidates of Workers Party of Bangladesh, 23 of Bikalpa Dhara Bangladesh, eight of Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal and 16 of Bangladesh Tarikat Federation candidates are contesting the elections with their own symbols alongside Awami League’s boat.
Polling will be held in 40,183 polling stations where 2,07,312 booths have been set up. Candidates are expected to set polling agents in all polling booths in their respective constituencies.
Nearly one crore of the voters, nine per cent of the total voters, are young voters.
Opposition BNP chief Khaleda Zia and other 26 candidates of the alliances, led by the party, are not in the race as the court cancelled their candidature after submission of petitions, in most of the cases by rival Awami League-led alliance candidates.
Eighteen opposition candidates are in the race from prison and most of them were taken to jail after submission of nomination papers.
Forty-four candidates of the BNP-led alliance were physically attacked allegedly by AL activists and police, according to our correspondents. BNP, however, claimed that the number of the victim candidates were sixty-four.