Bangladesh voters participated in the general elections on Sunday, January 7, 2024 and exuded confidence in the incumbent Awami League-led government under Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Despite the opposition boycott by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), polling stations bustled with activity early in the day, reflecting public confidence in the ruling party’s performance.
Voters expressed optimism about the country’s progress under Hasina’s leadership, citing advancements in infrastructure, development, and economic stability over the past 15 years. Many dismissed the BNP’s boycott as irrelevant to their aspirations for the future, suggesting a desire for continuity and further growth.
“We want the government to continue,” said one voter, highlighting the perceived benefits of Hasina’s established tenure. “People are not with the BNP. We see the development happening everywhere, and we want it to keep going.”
This sentiment was echoed by numerous voters throughout the day, indicating a potential mandate for Hasina’s Awami League to secure another term.
Notably, around 170 million people in Bangladesh are voting to elect 299 lawmakers during the 12th national election amid a boycott by the main opposition BNP.
“We are very happy, it is a festive mood, people are coming out to vote. It’s nice. People are very very excited to cast their vote. They are voting because they believe this government has done a lot of development which will continue if the party comes back to power. We think they will win and continue with the development,” a voter told ANI.
The voters further said that people across the country are coming out to vote because they want this government to continue and also refuted any impact of the protests carried out by BNP. “No, there will be no impact of BNP protests because people are not with the BNP, they are with the Bangladesh government, Awami League and other parties taking part in the election…the country has developed in the last 15 years. Asaduzzaman Khan is a very good person. He is a very successful Home Minister. Many votes will be cast in his name,” another voter stated while speaking to the media.
Another Bangladeshi voter, said, “As a responsible citizen, I have cast my vote in a free and fair way. The environment is very enjoyable. We are from a Christian community and living very peacefully. We want to live together and want the country to develop efficiently.”
Ahead of the polls, the locals in Bangladesh said that they are looking forward to the polls as they want to exercise their democratic rights. They also refuted any impact of the protests called by BNP on the people and said that they are not following the ‘democratic process’.
“In our country, there are 46 registered parties from the election commission. BNP is just one party. Only one party cannot define our country’s political system. I will go to the vote centre to cast my vote because I want to elect my representative,” a local said.
“No. I don’t think that because voters are in the places to cast their vote in their home, the villages and their own parliamentary section. So I don’t think that it will impact the election process because, as a political party, you cannot refrain from participating in the election. So that’s why you cannot call a strike. But no. I don’t think that people are supporting them because it is not a democratic process,” another local added.
Earlier in the day, Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina emphasised the importance of democracy for the development of the country as the Asian nation.
“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,” she said.
She also extended her wishes to India and said that Bangladesh is lucky to have a trusted friend like India. She also highlighted India’s support during the Liberation War in 1971.
In her message to India, PM Hasina said, ”We are very lucky…India is our trusted friend. During our Liberation War, they supported us…After 1975, when we lost our whole family…they gave us shelter. So our best wishes to the people of India.”
According to reports in the media, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is expected to win a fourth straight term in the absence of the main opposition BNP which on Saturday began a 48-hour nationwide strike against the “illegal government” amidst violence and a crackdown on protesters.
International election expert teams from the European Union are present in Dhaka, and foreign observers from various countries, including a Commonwealth team, are monitoring the elections.