BNP candidates boycott election citing gross irregularities
Awami League nominated candidates secured easy victories in the Dhaka-5 and Naogaon-6 by-elections on Saturday.
In the Dhaka 5 constituency, Awami League nominated Md Kazi Monirul Islam Monu bagged 45,642 votes, while his nearest rival — BNP candidate Salauddin Ahmed — got 2,926 votes in the by-polls.
Around 10.43% of the total number of votes were cast in the by-election. There are 471,129 voters in the constituency.
Meanwhile, in the Naogaon-6 constituency, Awami League nominated Anwar Hossain Helal won the by-election. He obtained 105,667 votes, while his nearest rival, BNP nominated Sheikh Md Rezaul Islam, got 4,517 votes.
Mahmud Hasan, district election officer, confirmed the result.
Around 36.04% of the total number of votes were cast in this by-election. There are 306,725 voters in the constituency.
Booth that had zero voters till noon
Voting for the Dhaka-5 by-polls — with the participation of the two major political parties, the Awami League and BNP — got underway at 187 centers from 9am on Saturday.
As many as 506 votes were cast till 12pm, according to presiding officers at the centres.
Since the start of the voting, many centres were reported to be empty. At some centres, 1-2% of the total number of votes were cast a few hours after the voting process started.
At one of the booths of Barnamala Adarsha High School and College in Dania under Kadamtali police station, not a single vote was cast until 12:30pm.
Visiting many of the voting centres, this correspondent saw that voter turnout was very low.
Although the presence of Awami League activists and its supporters outside the polling centres was strong, there were no BNP agents.
Mahmudunnabi, presiding officer and in-charge of the polling station designated for men on the third floor of Jatrabari Ideal School and College, said only 25 votes had been cast at his station since 10:30.
Voter turnout was low in the morning but it had increased after noon, he said.
Allegations of irregularities
BNP candidate Salauddin brought allegations of irregularities and claimed his agents had been driven out of most of the polling centres.
He said BNP polling agents had been thrown out of 95% of the centres in the presence of the police.
Calling the by-poll a farce, the BNP candidate demanded another election after boycotting the current one.
Sheikh Md Rezaul Islam of the BNP, a contestant at the Naogaon 6 by-poll, also boycotted the election, alleging irregularities at the voting centres.
However, Awami League candidate for the Dhaka-5 constituency Kazi Monirul Islam said voting had gone smoothly.
The Dhaka-5 constituency fell vacant following the death of Awami League MP Habibur Rahman Mollah on May 6, while that of Naogaon-6 necessitated a by-election following the demise of Awami League MP Israfil Alam on July 27.
The voting started at 9am on Saturday and continued till 5pm without break.
Voters exercised their franchise through electronic voting machines (EVMs) instead of traditional ballot papers.
In the Dhaka-5 constituency, six parliamentary candidates, including Md Kazi Monirul Islam Monu nominated by the Awami League and Salauddin Ahmed nominated by the BNP, contested the electoral race.
The four other contenders of the Dhaka-5 by-polls were Mir Abdus Sabir from the Jatiya Party, HM Ibrahim Bhuiyan from the Gano Front, Md Arifur Rahman from the NPP and Md Ansar Hossain Sikdar from Bangladesh Congress.
Meanwhile, in the Naogaon-6 constituency, three parliamentary contenders -- Anwar Hossain Helal of the Awami League, Sheikh Md Rezaul Islam of the BNP, and Khandkar Intekhab Alam of the NPP -- took part in the by-election.