BdChronicle Desk: Voting for the country’s 10th general election began at 8 am on Sunday amid low turnout of voters and violence that left at least seven people dead in Rangpur, Dinajpur, Thakurgaon and Nilphamari districts. The polling will be held in 147 parliamentary constituencies out of 300. It will continue till 4pm without any break. Visiting different polling centers, including Azimpur Girls’ School and RK Chowhdhury University College, Jatrabari Ideal School, Sishu Kalyan Primary School, Sabuj Bidyapith and Shaheed Zia Girls’ High School, found very low turnout of voters in the first hour of voting, reports UNB. Only 10 people cast votes at Azimpur Girls’ School Centre till 8:35 am. Witnesses said around 100 people gathered to cast their votes in front of West End High School polling centre under Dhaka-7 constituency at about 8am. However, the number of female voters was higher than the male voters in the centre. In Soroj International School Centre under Dhaka-15, the voter turnout was very thin in the first hour, said presiding officer Shahjahan Ali Sarker. The presence of media workers was higher than the voters in the centre in the first hour of voting. Only 9 votes were cast in the centre till 8: 50 am. Dadan Miah, a voter said he came to cast his vote in the early morning fearing violence. The opposition alliance is boycotting the election as its demand for a non-partisan interim-government to oversee the election has gone unheeded. In its last-ditch efforts to stop the election, the BNP-led 18-party alliance enforced non-stop blockade and 48-hour hartal programs across the country. Over 130 people have been killed across the country in election-related violence across the country since the Election Commission announced the election schedule on November 25. All the efforts by the international community and the civil society members to convince the government to hold an inclusive election has gone in vain as the current regime and the Election Commission are saying that the election has to be held by January 24 for maintaining the constitutional process. Meanwhile, opposition leader Khaleda Zia and her son and BNP senior vice chairman Tarique Rahman in their separate messages urged the voters to boycott the ‘unilateral’ polls, while Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in her address to the nation on Thursday said this election will create an opportunity for people to form a ‘government of their choice’. A total of 4, 39, 38938 voters out of the country’s 9, 19, 65,977 will be able to exercise their franchises to choose the representatives of the 147 constituencies from 380 candidates. Out of 40 registered political parties, 12 parties are contesting the election.
Source: BD Chronicle