In a resounding democratic spectacle, the 12th general election in Bangladesh emerged as a demonstration to the principles of transparency and fairness, where the Awami League secured a commanding victory by winning 222 seats out of the 298 contested. The significant representation of independents, who clinched 62 seats, further accentuates the diverse political landscape that characterized the election.
The voter turnout of 41.8% reflects a considerable participation of the electorate, indicative of a democratic process that engaged citizens. Noteworthy is the performance of various parties, such as Jatiya Party with 11 seats, and the singular victories by Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal, Bangladesh Workers Party, and Bangladesh Kalyan Party, each claiming one seat.
Independent candidates emerged victorious in surprising upsets, defeating prominent figures such as Former State Minister for Civil Aviation Mahbub Ali, State Minister for Disaster Management and Relief Md Enamur Rahman, and State Minister for Local Government, Rural Development, and Cooperatives Swapan Bhattacharjee. This collective turn of events amplifies the perception of a vibrant and competitive electoral process, solidifying the notion of a free and fair election.Top of Form
EC steadfast, takes strict actions for violations
To make the election fair and credible, the Election Commission (EC) took firm decisions wherein the electoral code of conducts were breached.
According to EC, there were reports of irregularities from 140 centres. Polling was suspended in 21 centres in at least nine constituencies. Forty-two people were arrested in connection with the irregularities.
The returning officer also suspended the results of the Mymensingh-3 (Gouripur) seat due to the suspension of a polling center.
The EC scrapped the candidacies of Awami League leaders Shammi Ahmed (Barisal-4 constituency) for having dual citizenship and Mustafizur Rahman Chowdhury (Chattogram-16) for threatening law enforcers during January 7 election.
Mustafizur Rahman Chowdhury, former MP of Chattogram-16 (Banshkhali), is the first AL-nominated candidate in the history of Bangladesh who lost his candidacy during the polls-day over “gross violations of the electoral code of conduct”.
The commission took the decision at 3:45pm on January 7.
In line with the EC’s directives, law enforcers arrested at least 42 people across the country for ballot stuffing and casting fake votes while the commission sued several others over irregularities during the voting.
In Narsingdi-4, the EC ordered the arrest of Industries Minister and AL candidate Nurul Majid Mahmud Humayun’s son for ballot stuffing.
Voting at Ibrahimpur Government Primary School in Sallabad Union Parishad under Belabo Upazila was cancelled at 8:40am, shortly after voting began, when the presiding officer discovered 12 ballot books with the seal of Awami League’s electoral symbol Boat.
Three people, including a councillor of the local municipality, were detained for vote rigging in three separate centres of Laksmipur-2 (Raipur and Sadar) constituency.
In Mymensingh-10 constituency, police arrested three people, including a presiding officer, for irregularities at a polling station under Gafargaon Upazila.
In Comilla-4 constituency, an assistant presiding officer has been withdrawn for allegedly casting votes for the Boat symbol.
In Meherpur-1, a mobile court sentenced three supporters of the Boat candidate to seven days in jail for obstructing voters from entering a polling centre at Kolaidanga village under Sadar Upazila.
In Barguna-1 constituency, a mobile court sentenced two polling agents to one year in jail each for using mobile phones.
In Sirajganj-3 constituency, a mobile court sentenced two persons to six months in jail for casting fake votes. In Keraniganj-3, Upazila Chairman Shahin Ahammad was sued for assaulting the presiding officer of Abdullahpur Government Primary School under Tegria Union Parishad.
In Narayanganj-1 constituency, two supporters of the Kettle symbol were jailed for two years each for buying votes.
In Dinajpur-4, police arrested two youths for the same crime at the Chak Sakoya Government Primary School centre under Khanshama Upazila.
In Rajbari-2, law enforcers arrested a man named Rana Biswas for attempting to cast a fake vote at Puijor Siddikia Fazil Madrasa centre under Pangsha Upazila. Officials said he was using a fake identity.
Former State Ministers and MPs Grasp Defeat in Electoral Upheaval
In the Dhaka-19 constituency, Saiful Islam, an independent candidate represented by the truck symbol, triumphed with 84,412 votes, outpacing his closest rival, former State Minister for Disaster Management and Relief Md. Enamur Rahman, the AL candidate, who garnered 56,361 votes.
Moving to Kushtia-2, Hasanul Haque Inu, the former Information Minister and three-time MP, a national leader with significant political influence, suffered defeat with 92,445 votes against the local leader Kamarul Arefin, who secured 115,799 votes.
In Jashore-5, Swapan Bhattacharya, the State Minister of Local Government and two-time MP, who also served as the Local Upazila Chairman, received 72,332 votes but faced defeat at the hands of the independent candidate Yakub Ali, who secured 77,468 votes.
Habiganj-4 experienced the defeat of Adv. Mahbub Ali, the state minister for civil aviation and a two-time MP, an influential leader of the Awami League. Despite garnering 69,543 votes, he was defeated by an independent candidate with a substantial margin of 169,099 votes.
Shifting to Dinajpur-1, the three-time former MP Manoranjan Shill Gopal faced defeat against a local leader from the Jatiya Party, who secured 115,516 votes, while Manoranjan received 106,499 votes.
In Barguna-1, the five-time MP Dhirendranath Shambhu lost with 54,168 votes to the local leader and independent candidate Golam Sarwar Tuku, who garnered 61,742 votes.
Sherpur-1 observed the former whip and five-time MP Atiur Rahman Atik losing with 93,175 votes to the local leader and independent candidate Chanuar Hossain Chanu, who secured 136,278 votes.
Moving to Mymensingh-6, Adv. Moslem Uddin, a six-time elected MP since 1970, faced defeat with 42,558 votes against the independent candidate Md. Abdul Malek Sarkar, who secured 52,285 votes.
In Manikganj-2, the three-time MP, popular singer, and trusted confidant of the government, Mumtaz Begum, lost with 82,138 votes to the independent candidate Dewan Zahid Ahmed Tulu, who secured 88,309 votes.
Gazipur-5 witnessed the defeat of Meher Afroz Chumki, the Minister of State for Women and Child Affairs and four-time MP, who garnered 67,783 votes, against the independent candidate Akhtaruzzaman, who secured 82,720 votes.
Pirojpur-2 observed Anwar Hossain Manju, a six-time MP, former minister, influential national leader, and president of the Ittefaq editorial board, losing with 70,681 votes to his own political secretary, who secured 99,268 votes.
Despite the Hype, Heavyweights Bow Out
In the electoral contest of Jashore-6, Shahin Chakladar, the esteemed General Secretary and influential leader of the Jashore district Awami League, experienced a significant setback as he faced a resounding defeat. Despite his prominent position, Chakladar secured only 39,369 votes, succumbing to an independent candidate who, at a mere 28 years of age, garnered 48,947 votes.
Moving to Netrokona-3, Ashim Kumar Ukil, a pivotal figure in the central leadership of the Awami League, encountered a similar fate. Despite his influential standing, Ukil suffered defeat with 74,550 votes, falling short against the independent candidate Iftiquar Pintu, who secured 76,803 votes.
In Kishoreganj-2, Abdul Kahar Akand, renowned for his role as the investigator in the Bangabandhu assassination case and a former DIG of police, faced defeat with 68,932 votes. This time, an independent candidate named Sohrab Hossain emerged victorious, securing 89,539 votes.
Dhaka-4 witnessed the defeat of Adv. Sanjida Khanom, a member of the Central Committee of Awami League and a two-time former Member of Parliament. Despite her impressive background, Khanom fell short with 22,577 votes, losing to the independent candidate Dr. Awlad Hossain, who secured 24,775 votes.
In Faridpur-4 constituency, Mujibur Rahman Chowdhury, popularly known as Nixon Chowdhury, won the election defeating Awami League candidate Kazi Zafarullah for third consecutive time. Nixon with the Eagle symbol secured 1,48,035 votes while Zafarullah got 1,24,066 votes.
Abdus Sobhan Golap, an influential member of Madaripur-3 Awami League Central Committee and former Special Assistant to the Prime Minister, faced an unexpected defeat. Golap, with 61,971 votes, was surpassed by the relatively unknown Tahmina Begum, who secured 96,633 votes.
Lastly, in Sunamganj-2, Chowdhury Abdullah Al Mahmood, the younger brother of the current Inspector General of Police (IG), faced defeat with 58,672 votes. An independent candidate, with 67,775 votes, emerged victorious in this electoral contest.
Jatiya Party also blown out
Not only Awami League’s heavyweights defeated this time, but heavyweights from other parties witnessed the same fate.
Despite 26 conceded seats from the Awami League in the general election, the Jatiyo Party secured a win of only 11 after fielding the second-highest number of 265 candidates.
Shamim Haider Patwari in Gaibandha, Fakhrul Imam in Mymensingh, Pir Fazlur Rahman in Sunamganj, Panir Uddin Ahmed in Kurigram, Ahsan Adelur Rahman and Rana Mohammad Sohail in Nilphamari, Shariful Islam in Bogura, Liakat Hossain in Narayanganj, Nasrin Jahan in Barishal, and Nurul Islam Talukdar in Bogura were among those who could not be elected.
Awami League’s ally Bangladesh Workers Party’s candidate Fazle Hossain Badsha lost to independent candidate Shafiqur Rahman in Rajshahi-2.
Lakshmipur-4 candidate JaSoD leader Mosharraf Hossain lost his seat to an independent candidate Md Abdullah Independent.
Apart from this, JP ((Manju) chairman Anwar Hossain Manju was given the Pirojpur-2 seat. Although he had won this seat twice before, he lost this time. As we reflect on this electoral rollercoaster, it is evident that the 12th general election will be remembered not only for the triumphs of the victorious but also for the unexpected exit of the political giants. It signifies that in the grand theater of democracy, every vote counts, and no political narrative is predestined. The echoes of this electoral upheaval will resonate as evidence of the vibrant spirit of democracy in Bangladesh, setting the stage for future chapters in the nation’s democratic journey.