Jahangir alleged that at least ten BNP voters were forced out from his centre
Similar to some previous by-elections, polling agents of BNP were hardly seen present at polling centres for the ongoing Dhaka 18 by-polls.
While visiting several polling centres, including Malekabanu Adarsha Bidyaniketan centre, after polling began on Thursday morning, Dhaka Tribune found that only four polling agents of BNP present compared to the large number of ruling Awami League and Jatiya Party (JP) agents.
Polling agents of other contenders were also low in numbers at the centres since morning.
Interestingly, a JP polling agent at the centre also became confused of her own name when inquired.
While asked for her name, JP polling agent Happy Akhter hesitated and took some time. Then, she checked her polling agent card, recollected the name written on it and confirmed it.
FM Mashiur Rahman, polling agent for BNP, said only two votes have been cast at Booth 4 of the centre after one and a half hours of the commencement of vote casting.
“I do not know about any problem,” he said.
BNP nominated candidate SM Jahangir Hossain and his family members are the voters of this centre.
Jahangir alleged that at least ten BNP voters have been forced out from the centre.
Meanwhile, Marufa Sultana, a polling officer at the centre, expressed hope of being voters’ presence adding that: “The turn-over will be good and more voters will come.”
Ali Akbar, presiding officer at Malekabanu Adarsha Bidyaniketan, also a government college teacher, said: “Vote casting is going on peacefully.”
While asked about the low presence of BNP polling agents, he said: “I have distributed forms to the all the BNP polling agent in early morning.”
Police, led by the presiding officer, also asked journalists around 9am to leave the centre but the reporters did not follow, this correspondent also found.
However, hand sanitizers and wearing masks were seen as part of polling officers’ safety gear.
Dhaka 18 constituency fell vacant following the death of Awami League lawmaker Advocate Sahara Khatun while Sirajganj 1 constituency fell vacant following the death of ruling party MP Mohammad Nasim.
Six candidates are contesting in the by-polls, including Awami League nominated Md Habib Hasan, BNP’s nominated SM Jahangir Hossain, Jatiya Party's Nasir Uddin Sarkar, Gano Front's Kazi Md Shahidullah, Bangladesh Congress's Omar Faruk and PDP's Mobibullah Bahar.
According to Election Commission sources, the Dhaka 18 constituency consists of wards 1, 17, and 43 to 54 of Dhaka North City and the airport area.
The total number of polling stations is 217 and the number of polling booths is 1,353. The total number of voters is 577,188. Among them, 296,135 voters are male and 281,053 are female.