In a significant development, Bangladesh's opposition party, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), led by former prime minister Khaleda Zia, opted out of the general elections, drawing accusations of terrorism from Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's Awami League.
Prime Minister Hasina, after casting her vote, labeled the BNP a "terrorist organisation" while emphasising her commitment to preserving democracy in the nation as reported by Hindustan Times.
Accompanied by her family, Hasina cast her vote at City College in Dhaka and underscored the critical role of democracy in the country's development.
Hasina stated, "Our country is sovereign and independent...We have a big population. We have established people's democratic rights...I want to make sure that democracy should continue in this country and without democracy, you can't make any development. As we are a long-term democratic system from 2009 to 2023, that is why Bangladesh made this much of an achievement."
In response to the BNP's decision to boycott the elections, Hasina reiterated her commitment to a democratic Bangladesh and expressed confidence in winning the people's mandate for a fifth term.
The BNP, alleging that the elections would neither be free nor fair, refused to participate in the polls and called for a 48-hour nationwide strike.
They demanded the resignation of what they termed as Hasina's "illegal government" and urged the public to boycott the election, deeming it a "sham."
With the absence of the main opposition party, Hasina is expected to secure a fourth straight term and her fifth overall in the 12th general assembly election.
The voting, taking place in 299 out of 300 constituencies, involves 119.6 million registered voters in over 42,000 polling stations.
Over 1,500 candidates from 27 political parties, along with 436 independent candidates, are participating in the election, where women constitute almost half of the eligible voters, and approximately 15 million are first-time voters.
Bhuvan Krishna is Staff Writer at Swarajya.
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