Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN)-Amid sporadic violence, thousands of people today queued up in Bangladesh to vote in the first-ever local body polls on party lines, joined by opposition BNP which had boycotted the 2014 general elections.
Over 12,000 candidates from some 20 parties, including former prime minister Khaleda Zia’s BNP, were contesting the polls in which 7 million eligible voters are likely to exercise their franchise to elect mayors and councillors in 234 municipalities, reports the PTI.
The polls saw Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and ruling Awami League facing each other off, though a large number of political groups and independent candidates were also contesting.
Bangladesh is unlikely to see any change in the government until the 2019 general elections, but analysts said today’s polls appeared to be a referendum on the popularity of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League and Khaleda’s BNP.
“BNP is exposed to a state of wilderness since it was miserably defeated in the 2008 elections while its decision to boycott the subsequent 2014 parliamentary polls visibly affected its organisational morale…It was crucial for the party to take part in the local government polls to secure the party structure,” said political analyst Khurshida Huq.
The Election Commission (EC) overnight called out paramilitary Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB), elite anti-crime Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and coastguards to aide the police force in conducting the polls.
But reports said clashes occurred in northeastern Satkania, where a man was killed when supporters of two candidates traded gunshots.