Huge win for Hasina
By Our Correspondent, 31/12/2018, Dhaka

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's ruling alliance Monday swept to a landslide victory in the general elections, securing a third straight term even as the opposition grouping rejected the poll outcome as "farcical". The Awami League-led grand alliance won 288 seats in the 300-member Parliament, Election Commission (EC) secretary Helaluddin Ahmed said, after counting of votes in the elections that was marred by deadly violence.The alliance, which got nearly 82 per cent of the total votes polled, bettered its previous best performance of 2008 when it bagged 263 seats.The opposition Jatiya Oikya Front - National Unity Front (NUF) - secured seven seats with over 15 per cent of the votes, he said, adding that others won three seats. Voting was postponed in one constituency and result not declared in another due to the death of a candidate, Ahmed said. Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Hasina over phone on her victory in the elections and assured her of India's continued support to Bangladesh's developmental strides.

While 71-year-old Hasina was seeking re-election for an overall fourth term as the prime minister, her 73-year-old arch-rival Khaleda Zia of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), who is reportedly partially paralysed, faces an uncertain future in a Dhaka jail where she is lodged after her conviction in corruption cases. Rejecting the results, the opposition NUF urged the EC to immediately scrap the "farcical election" and hold a fresh one under a non-partisan interim government. NUF chief and veteran lawyer Kamal Hossain called the polls a "farce", citing widespread polling frauds, bdnews24.com reported.    "We have reports that fraudulence took place in almost all centres. "You (the EC) must cancel this election right away. We reject the so-called results and demand a new election under a neutral government," Hossain said. BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, who steered the party in the absence of Zia, described the polls as a "cruel farce".  

He said the elections proved that free and fair polls were not possible under a partisan government.The BNP's decision to stay away from the general election five years ago was not wrong, he said. The NUF is a coalition of opposition parties such as the BNP, Gono Forum, Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal-JSD, Nagorik Oikya and Krishak Sramik Janata League.    Responding to the vote-rigging allegations, Awami League Joint General Secretary Abdur Rahman said foreign and domestic observers have expressed satisfaction over the election process and declared that it was held in a fair environment."I want to express my gratitude to everyone, including law enforcement and observers, who made the free-and-fair election possible," he said. With the overwhelming majority in the 11th general elections, 71-year-old Hasina is set to take office of the prime minister for the third consecutive time and fourth time overall.

Hasina, the daughter of Bangladesh's founder Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, is termed by many as the country's iron lady. She won the historic fourth term as prime minister, becoming the country's longest-serving leader.The BNP, which has been out of power for 12 years and had boycotted the 10th general elections in 2014, is part of the opposition alliance. EC secretary Ahmed told reporters: "This is a huge event in the history of Bangladesh as the voting to the 11th parliamentary election took place in a very free, fair and peaceful environment under a political government."My congratulations to the Awami League". The EC said they have received over a hundred complaints from candidates throughout the country amid reports of violence.

At least 18 people, including a member of a security agency, have been killed and more than 200 others injured in poll-related violence, making it one of the deadliest polls in the country.    Reports said most of the dead were ruling party activists, while others were workers of the BNP or its allies.    As many as 299 out of the 300 parliamentary seats went to the polls that took place across Bangladesh from 8 AM to 4 PM (local time) Sunday.    The EC confirmed the complete result of the constituency in southwestern Gopalganj from where Hasina won, bagging 2,29,539 votes, while her BNP opponent got only 123 votes.    Over 600,000 security personnel including several thousand soldiers and paramilitary border guards were deployed across the nation for the election in which 10.41 crore people were eligible to vote.