Friday, April 19, 2019

Hasina points to turnout in 2008 polls amid criticism of 2018 victory

  • Senior Correspondent,
    Published: 2019-01-10 23:19:50 BdST


Sheikh Hasina has responded to allegations of vote rigging by pointing to the fact that the turnout in the 2008 parliament elections, won by the Awami League, was even bigger than it was in Dec 30 ballot.

The prime minister reacted to the criticism of the ruling party’s victory in the Dec 30 elections at an event marking Bangabandhu’s Homecoming Day in Dhaka on Thursday.

“Many are writing and saying a lot of things. But if they compare they will see that more votes were cast in the 2008 election than were this time. It means the people vote for the Awami League’s ‘boat’ symbol to give us the opportunity to serve the country,” she said.

“The people gave us their mandate in the 2008 elections. A huge number of votes were cast, even more than the turnout in 2018,” she added.   

The Awami League returned to power after winning the Dec 29, 2008 polls by securing 230 seats.

The turnout in that election overseen by the military-controlled caretaker regime was over 87 percent. More than 90 percent votes were cast in 74 constituencies.

The BNP, which won 30 seats in 2008 but boycotted the 2014 polls, has won six seats this time.

It has rejected the results alleging widespread rigging. It has demanded fresh elections also alleging that its supporters were barred from voting.

Chief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda has dismissed the allegations, claiming that the polls were largely fair with 80 percent turnout.  

Hasina on Thursday reiterated that the BNP lost the election because it “misled its supporters by choosing several candidates for each seat but auctioned the nominations finally”.

The BNP candidates, who had chances to win such as Ziaur Rahman of Dhamrai, Taimur Alam Khandaker of Cumilla, Enam Ahmed Chaudhury of Sylhet, were dropped in the “auction”, according to Hasina.

Many of the BNP leaders who were struck out from the race had met her to express their distress, the prime minister said.

Recalling its protests in 2013, 2014 and 2015 marked by deadly violence, she said those who fail in movement also fail in election. “The 2018 polls have proved it,” Hasina remarked.

The Awami League chief also advised the BNP to open an inquest into its election debacle.