- 30 parties will contest in the polls
- 2,713 candidates have filed nomination forms including 747 independents
Political parties in Bangladesh are preparing for a looming tough electoral battle as most of the registered political parties—30 out of 44—are taking part in the polls slated for January 7 next year.
Electoral festivity already on air as the nomination submission ended with much fervor. Processions with musical accompaniment and chants showed people’s spontaneous involvement with the elections.
Election buzz shake every corner of the country—from political parties’ headquarters to rural teashop—, the nation braces for the crucial decisions that will shape its political future.
An awe-inspiring number of 2,713 candidates have filed nomination forms to contest in the upcoming slated.
Of the aspiring contestants, 1,966 have been nominated from 32 political parties while 747 have filed the nomination forms as independent candidates, shows Election Commission data.
The number of candidates nominated by political parties have increased this year, despite the BNP and some of its allies boycotting the election.
In the 2018 election, 1,733 candidates were nominated by 39 registered political parties.
Parties Participating in Upcoming Elections
Among the political parties, the ruling Awami League has fielded candidates in 298 seats, with two candidates each nominated for five seats; the Jatiya Party has fielded candidates in 286 seats, with two candidates each for 18 seats; the Trinamool BNP has nominated candidates in 151 seats; Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal in 91 seats; the Islami Oikya Jote in 45 seats, the Zaker Party in 218 seats, the Islamic Front Bangladesh in 39 seats, Bangladesh Workers Party in 33 seats, Krishak Sramik Janata League in 34 seats, the Bangladesh Islami Front in 37 seats, the Jatiya Gano Front in 25 seats, the Gano Forum in 9 seats; and the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Bangladesh in one seats.
Besides, the National People’s Party has fielded candidates in 142 seats, the Bangladesh Muslim League in 02 seats, Bangladesh Khilafat Movement in 13 seats; Bangladesh Tarikat Federation in 47 seats; the Jatiya Party (JP) in 20 seats; the Communist Party of Bangladesh in 06 seats; the Ganatantri Party in 12 seats; the Bangladesh National Awami Party in 06 seats; the Bikaplo Dhara Bangladesh in 14 seats, the Bangladesh Samajtantrik Dal 01 seat, the Bangladesh Jatiya Party in 13 seats; the Bangladesh Kalyan Party in 18 seats; the Bangladesh Khelafat Majlish in one seat; the Bangladesh Muslim League (BML) in 5 seats; the Bangladesh Sanskritic Muktijot in 74 seats; Bangladesh Nationalist Front in 55 seats; Bangladesh Congress in 116 seats; the Bangladesh Nationalist Movement in 49 seats; and the Bangladesh Supreme Party in 82 seats.
As per the polls schedule, The EC will scrutinise the nomination papers from December 1-4. Appeals against the nominations can be submitted from December 5-6 and nominations need to be withdrawn by December 17. Electoral symbols to the parties and candidates will be distributed on December 18 and candidates could be able to run election campaign till January 5.
BNP In, BNP Out of The Elections
Though BNP as a party has decided not to participate in the polls but an overwhelming number of the party’s key leaders have decided their firm stance regarding contesting in polls.
At least 52 leaders of BNP including 15 central leaders and 30 former lawmakers came out of the party resisting BNP’s de facto leader Tarique Rahman’s adamant stance and monopolistic power grips.
Also, a large number of BNP’s grassroots leaders also participating in the polls showing an unfixable rift inside party and bold detachment from Tarique’s megalomania.
Making a huge bolt from the blue, two new parties emerged in the political landscape from the debris of BNP and poised as key opposition forces as hundreds of heavyweights and renowned BNP leaders joined those parties’ rank.
Awami League (AL) General Secretary Obaidul Quader said it is a big success that 30 registered political parties are participating in the 12th general elections.
“Thirty former lawmakers, including 15 central leaders of BNP, are participating in the forthcoming polls,’ he said indicating that these participations nullified BNP’s boycotting tendency.
Quader said after many days, a festive atmosphere is being seen all over the country centering the polls and it is important that the election is being held with people’s participation.
Nation Brace for Participatory Elections
Bangalees have historically deep-rooted ties with the elections and politics. From every walk of life, people are so much obsessed with politics as it determines the future paths of the country.
The number of total voters in the country this year is 11,96,91,633 while the number of polling stations is 42,103.
Also, the extensive array of candidates from various political backgrounds underscores the vibrancy and health of Bangladesh’s democratic landscape. The presence of candidates from both established and newcomer parties, as well as independent candidates and BNP defectors, indicates a democratic space that is open and inclusive.
A larger pool of candidates and the resulting competition serve to not just remove doubts about the election’s legitimacy but also lay the groundwork for an inclusive democracy that encourages active civic engagement. This upcoming election holds the promise of establishing a strong democratic practice in Bangladesh, supported by the government’s dedication to ensuring an open and fair electoral procedure.
With the aim of securing another overwhelming victory, the ruling Awami League remains steadfast in its pursuit of a robust voter turnout. Their comprehensive strategy involves rallying existing supporters, engaging beneficiaries of government programs, aiding vulnerable demographics, and conducting extensive door-to-door campaigns.
The success witnessed in recent local elections serves as a positive indicator for the impending national polls.
According to the latest survey by the International Republican Institute (IRI), an overwhelming majority of 70 percent of respondents think that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is doing ‘a good job.’
This represents a 4% increase in approval compared to 2018. Analysts believe that the support galore for PM Hasina for her successful handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, impressive overall developments, and rolling out of a number of safety net schemes. On the government’s performance in different sectors, the endorsement for Awami League also stood “high”, as per the survey.
To make the election participatory, Prime Minister and Awami League President Sheikh Hasina has asked the leaders and activists of her party to work unitedly to ensure voter turnout at the polling centres during the 12th national parliamentary elections.
Other political parties will try their level best to ensure mass and peaceful participation in the polls, amidst BNP’s anarchy attempt to foil the elections.
In the 11th general election, Bangladesh witnessed 80% voter turnout, according to the then CEC KM Nurul Huda.
Prime Minister’s Private Industry and Investment Adviser Salman F Rahman said that the upcoming election is shaping up to be a participatory one even with BNP not joining the polls,
“Except for two parties, all are participating in the polls. The government is working towards holding free, fair, impartial and participatory elections,”Salman F Rahman
“The environment for free, fair and acceptable elections has been created under the leadership of Sheikh Hasina,” he added.
Expressing his views with Press Xpress, Dhaka University Professor Md. Abdur Rahim, PhD said, “Every political party has the right to participate or boycott elections. Several political parties including Mawlana Bhashani’s NAP weren’t participate in 1970 election, which is considered as the most credible election to date.”
“This 12th general election is not different. The election will be participatory if voters can cast their vote amid festivity. 30 political parties and many more BNP’s senior leaders are contesting in the polls. So, undoubtably, January 7 election will be participatory and competitive. But it would be more competitive if BNP participated in polls.” He added.
Bangladesh’s main opposition, Jatiya Party’s secretary general Md Mujibul Haque Chunnu said that they are optimistic about having a free and fair election and hope that the election commission will keep their word on making the election participatory.
“The election commission must take required steps to hold a free and fair election. The people of the country become very ardent to express their electoral rights,” he said.
Minister of Road Transport and Bridges and General Secretary of Awami League, Obaidul Quader, conveyed, “The people are now completely oriented towards the election; there will be a record voter turnout this year.”
EC Prepares for Credible Election
Following the Representation of the People Order (RPO) and the Electoral Act, comprehensive preparations have been made by the Election Commission (EC) to ensure the credibility of the upcoming parliamentary elections.
Recent amendments to the RPO have strengthened the Election Commission (EC), granting it increased authority. Under the new amendment, the EC has the power to annul the voting at affected centers if irregularities are detected during post-voting investigations. Furthermore, the EC is empowered to halt the issuance of gazettes.
To streamline the election process, the EC will promptly issue a public notification and appoint returning officers (ROs) and assistant returning officers (AROs). Empowered by legal authority under electoral laws, the ROs, with the assistance of AROs, will undertake necessary tasks to ensure a fair election. Additionally, the EC plans to send a demi-official letter to the cabinet division, seeking assistance and requesting that field-level government officers remain in their positions until the election results are published.