Bangladesh National Polls End Amid Low Voter Turnout, Counting Begins

Security was heightened across the country after a series of arson incidents, including a fatal fire on the Benapole Express.
Counting of votes has begun for the elections held in Bangladesh
Counting of votes has begun for the elections held in Bangladesh
Masum Billah, Dhaka

The 12th Jatiya Sangsad elections in Bangladesh concluded with a lower-than-usual voter turnout, estimated at 40 per cent, marking it as the second lowest in the country's electoral history. Despite a boycott by major opposition parties, the government declared the election a success. The capital witnessed largely deserted streets due to a hartal called by the BNP and Jamaat-e-Islam. While the day remained mostly peaceful, sporadic violence occurred, prompting the suspension of voting in three centers due to allegations of booth capturing and vote-rigging.

Several candidates withdrew from the race, citing an unfair polls environment, with Jatiyo Party's chairman stating they were brought in as sacrificial lambs. Out of 44 registered parties, 16 were excluded from the electoral race, involving approximately 12 crore voters. The election for the Naogaon-2 constituency was postponed following the death of an independent candidate, with a new schedule pending announcement.

Security was heightened across the country after a series of arson incidents, including a fatal fire on the Benapole Express. Four deaths were reported in 14 fire incidents within 16 hours on January 5. Eight lakh security personnel were deployed to monitor and maintain a poll-time atmosphere by enforcing codes of conduct.

The Election Commission's estimation of a 40 per cent voter turnout, if confirmed below 40.04 per cent, would make it the second lowest in Bangladesh's electoral history, trailing behind the controversial February 1996 elections with a turnout of 26.74 per cent. Despite challenges, the government's declaration of success contrasts with allegations of irregularities, highlighting the need for scrutiny in the ongoing counting process. The country awaits the final results and a comprehensive assessment of the electoral proceedings.

Counting of votes has begun for the elections held in Bangladesh
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