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Dhaka Tribune

27 boycott polls alleging rigging, irregularities

In the previous general election, nearly 50 candidates boycotted the voting

Update : 08 Jan 2024, 02:53 AM

No fewer than 27 candidates, including two incumbent lawmakers, YouTuber Ashraful Hossen, well-known as Hero Alom, and singer Dolly Sayontoni, boycotted Sunday’s vote, citing ballot stuffing and intimidation of their agents, mostly by ruling party men. 

The Election Commission confirmed the figure in a press conference after the voting ended at 4pm. In the previous general election, nearly 50 candidates boycotted the voting. 

The BNP and other like-minded parties had already boycotted the 12th parliamentary election, which featured 1,970 candidates, including 436 independent contenders, for 299 constituencies.

Click to get exclusive minute-to-minute update on election here

Sunday’s voting saw sporadic clashes across the country, with Chief Election Commissioner Kazi Habibul Awal saying he only found agents of Awami League candidates in some centres in Dhaka. 

Law enforcers arrested at least 37 people, mostly ruling party men, for ballot stuffing. Some of them were jailed for up to five years. Meanwhile, the EC sued several others and took action against some election officials over irregularities during Sunday’s voting.

Cox's Bazar-1 constituency MP Jafar Alam, who contested the election as an independent candidate after being denied a nomination by the Awami League, said he boycotted the election after “several law enforcers stuffed ballots and beat up his polling agents” in many centres.

Independent candidate Mizan Sayeed for the Cox’Bazar-3 seat, announcing his decision to quit around 12:30pm, complained of ballot stuffing in 121 centres.   

Jatiya Party (JaPa) candidate Nurul Amin Shikder and independent hopeful Nurul Bashar for Cox's Bazar-4 seat pulled out of the election over “mindless vote rigging”.

Bashar alleged that the election officials did not take any measures despite being informed of the irregularities. 

However, Ukhiya Upazila Nirbahi Officer and Assistant Returning Officer Tanvir Hasan claimed that they immediately intervened in places where such anomalies were reported.

Mokabbir Khan, the MP of Sylhet 2 (Bishwanath-Osmaninagar) constituency and a Gono Forum candidate, and three other aspirants quit the polls race, alleging vote rigging and the expulsion of agents from polling stations.

The MP said: “With the help of the police and the presiding officer, in addition to rigging, agents representing the Boat symbol of each polling station threw out our agents and cast fake votes.

“In such an environment, it is better to boycott the election. The election did not go as we were assured. Even complaining to the police did not help,” he told a media briefing at 3pm.

The three other candidates are Biswanath Mayor independent candidate Muhibur Rahman, Trinamool BNP-nominated candidate Mohammad Abdur Rab, and JaPa candidate Yahya Chowdhury.

Independent candidate for Sylhet-3 constituency Dr Ehteshamul Haque Chowdhury's decision came after alleged negligence by the police and election officials amid incidents of his polling agents being driven out of many centres. 

“Every possible irregularity took place here. However, my complaints were ignored. So I quit the polls fray,” he said. 

JaPa’s Sylhet-3 candidate Atikur Rahman, too, boycotted the election after he alleged vote rigging in 36 centres. 

Running as a candidate of the Bangladesh Congress in the Bogura-4 constituency, Hero Alom on Sunday evening posted a status on his official Facebook page saying: "Due to various irregularities, Hero Alom has boycotted this election."

But earlier in the day, he had termed the voting environment “satisfactory.”

Citing the common allegations as mentioned by most aspirants, Bangladesh Nationalist Movement’s Pabna-2 candidate Doly Sayontoni, Pabna-4 independent candidate Panjab Ali Biswas and Bangladesh Workers’ Party-backed Pabna-5 Md Zakir Hossain also joined the boycott spree.  

In the Kurigram-3 constituency, independent candidate Mujibur Rahman and JaPa aspirant AKM Saifur Rahman also pulled out of the polls race. 

Ashraful Alam Liton, an independent candidate of truck symbol in Jessore-1 constituency, boycotted the election two hours after the voting opened.

He took the decision after supporters of the ruling party candidate allegedly stuffed ballots openly, hurled crude bombs, and forced his 55 polling agents to leave the polling centres.

He said: ''I am a candidate. I have been barred from entering the polling centre. My wife was also not allowed to enter the centre.”

Mohammad Ali, the Jatiya Party candidate for the Tangail-1 seat, said the Awami League candidate’s followers forced his agents out of many polling stations and even physically assaulted them. 

The attackers randomly stuffed ballots in many centres, he said.

Agriculture Minister Abdur Razzaque is the ruling party’s candidate in the constituency. 

Independent candidate for the Tangail-2 seat Yunus Islam Talukdar also pulled out of the election accusing the Awami League candidate's followers of violently assaulting his activists and preventing his agents from entering the polling centres. 

“Despite filing complaints with the local administration, no action was taken. Repeated calls to the district police superintendent went unanswered,” Talukdar added.

Two independent candidates -- Abul Hossain Dipu with eagle symbol and Kaiser Ahmed with truck symbol -- in the Mymensingh-10 constituency boycotted the election alleging vote rigging and irregularities.

It came as three people, including a presiding officer, were arrested in a centre at Gafargaon Upazila.

In the Munshiganj-2 seat, independent candidate Sohana Tahmina, also the district unit Awami League’s joint general secretary, announcing her decision on Sunday afternoon, her followers and polling agents were threatened the night before the election. 

“Even many of agents were not allowed to take a seat in many centres while many were forced out during the voting,” she told journalists. 

Also, she accused the administration of not cooperating with her despite her complaints. 

In Comilla, four candidates announced their decision around 1pm bringing similar allegations.  

They are independent aspirant Nayeem Hasan, also an Awami League leader, and JaPa candidate Amir Hossain for the Comilla-1 seat. 

Comilla-7 independent candidate Muntaqim Ashraf Titu said that vote rigging took place in 89 centres, demanding re-election to the constituency.

In the Comilla-11 constituency, independent candidate Md Mizanur Rahman said a lack of congenial atmosphere forced him to quit the polls race. 

Clashes were reported there after he announced his decision. 

Independent candidate Parvez Anwar skipped the election to the Kushtia-3 seat accusing Awami League’s heavyweight candidate and sitting MP Mahbubul Alam Hanif’s followers of ballot stuffing and beating his polling agents. 

Around 2pm, he demanded that the EC suspend the election and hold it again. 

Firozur Rahman Olio, an independent candidate for the Brahmanbaria-3 seat, through Facebook, announced his withdrawal from the polls race.

 

Timeline: National Election 2024
08 Jan 2024, 02:53
27 boycott polls alleging rigging, irregularities
07 Jan 2024, 21:55
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