Bangladesh has finally entered the voting phase of the 11th parliamentary election amid political clashes and continued disagreements over ‘level playing field’ by the contesting parties.
On Sunday, around 104 million voters are expected to give their verdict, and the chosen party will take the reins of Bangladesh for the next five years.
The Election Commission has all the registered political parties contesting in the 11th parliamentary election this time. In the previous election, held five years ago amongst widespread and often deadly violence, most of the registered parties chose to stay away from the crucial ballot.
Chief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda hopes all the contesting parties will co-operate for a peaceful and fair election and all anxieties will be set aside for a festive vote.
To ensure law and order, 700,000 security personnel, 700,000 election officials and a good number of journalists and observers, making up a total of 1.5 million, are engaged in electoral work, according to Election Commission Secretary Helal Uddin Ahmed.
The election schedule, announced on Nov 8 by CEC Nurul Huda, was revised on Nov 12.
The candidates started electioneering after the allotment of the symbols on Dec 10. All campaigning was officially ended on Friday 8am, as decided by the EC.
11TH PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS
>> Time: The voting will start at 8am and run until 4pm on Sunday.
>> Seat: Due to the death of a candidate, the election will be contested in 299 seats out of 300. The EC has re-scheduled the voting date of the remaining Gaibandha-3 constituency to Jan 27.
>> Voter: Among 103,826,823 voters, 52,371,620 are men and 51,455,203 women.
>> Voting centres and polling stations: Voting will be conducted in 205,691 polling stations among 40,051 voting centres.
>> How voting will be conducted: Six constituencies - Dhaka-6, Dhaka-13, Chattogram -9, Rangpur-3, Khulna-2 and Satkhira-2 - will make use of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs). The remaining 293 seats will have the traditional method of vote casting using ballot paper.
>> Results Announcement: After counting is finished, the presiding officers in each voting centre will send a written copy of the results to the returning officers. The returning officers will then count the total number of votes and send the results to the EC. The official result of the election will be announced in a ceremony from a special stage in the fountain premises of the election building in Dhaka.
There are 1,861 candidates contesting in the 11th parliamentary elections. Among them, 1,733 have been nominated by 39 registered political parties. The remaining 128 are independent candidates.
# As many as 272 candidates of the ruling Awami League and 16 of its allies are contesting the election with ‘boat’ symbol. 260 of them are from the Awami League. Its key ally Jatiya Party is contesting with ‘plough’ logo.
# A total of 282 nominees of the BNP and eight of its allies are using the ‘paddy sheaf’ symbol. They include 257 from the BNP. Outside the registered parties, the candidates of the Jamaat-e-Islami and Nagorik Oikya are also contesting under the ‘paddy sheaf’ symbol.
# Different political parties are contesting the election with a variety of symbols:
Communist Party of Bangladesh – CPB: Sickle, Bangladesh Samajtantrik Dal – BaSaD: Ladder, Bangladesh Revolutionary Workers Party: Spade, Islami Andolon Bangladesh: winnowing fan, Bangladesh Nationalist Front – BNF: Television, Bangladesh Khelafat Andolon: Banyan Tree, Islami Oikya Jote: Minaret, Progressive Democratic Party (PDP): Tiger, Zaker Party: Rose.
>> According to the Representation of the People Order, no meeting, rally or procession can be held from 8am Dec 28 Friday till 4pm Jan 01 Tuesday.
>> In the day of the vote, no motorised vehicle will be allowed for 24 hours from Saturday midnight. Motorcycles have been banned for four days from Friday midnight.
>> The Election Commission has informed that inside the voting centres only the presiding officers and the police-in-charge of the security are allowed to use mobile phones.
>> Voters will not be allowed to use mobile phones inside the voting centres or polling booths. If anyone goes into the voting centre carrying a mobile phone, they will have to switch it off.
>> NID card will not be required for voting. But if the voter is carrying his NID number, voter number or smart card with him, it will be easier to find his name from the voter list.
In the 6 seats where EVMs will be used, there are 5,045 polling stations in 845 centres. Around 2.1 million voters will be voting and they will be picking 6 candidates from a list of 48.
As many as 66 Returning Officers in districts and 582 Assistant Returning Officers in Upazilas will take on the overall responsibility for the election.
A total of 40,183 presiding officers will be in charge of the voting centres. Under them, 207,312 assistant presiding officers and 414,624 polling officers will be directly handling the votes.
In order to preserve law and order, 608,000 members of different law-enforcing agencies will be deployed in voting centres.
# Among them, 121,000 are police, 446,000 Ansars and 41,000 village police.
# 600 Platoon (30 people per platoon) RAB and 983 platoon (30 people per platoon) BGB members will be present in voting areas.
# On top of this, the 389 Upazilas will have 414 platoon (30 people per platoon) Army members, 18 Upazilas 48 platoon (30 people per platoon) Navy, and 12 Upazilas 42 platoon (30 people per platoon) Coastguards.
# Around the country, 1,328 executive magistrates and 640 judicial magistrates will be residing with law enforcement officers.
# As many as 244 members of 122 election investigation committees will be present in the voting field to investigate complaints.
A total of 25,900 representatives from 81 local observer bodies, 38 (Invited from FEMBoSA, AAEA, OIC and Commonwealth) foreign observers, 64 officials and diplomats from foreign missions, and 61 Bangladeshi nationals working in overseas organizations will be watching the election.
Election Commission has allocated Tk 7 billion for the 11th parliamentary election. Two-thirds of the money will be spent on security.