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Bangladesh Elections 2018: Sheikh Hasina wins third consecutive term as prime minister

Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina secured her third consecutive term and fourth overall with a landslide victory in the nation’s general elections. This is an unprecedented feat in the country’s political history as no other leader in Bangladesh has been able to win a third consecutive term.

Dec 31, 2018 13:36 IST
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Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina secured her third consecutive term and fourth overall with a landslide victory in the nation’s general elections. The results were announced by the Election Commission on December 31, 2018.

Sheikh Hasina’s ruling party Bangladesh Awami League and its allies won 288 of the 299 parliamentary seats contested, surpassing its previous election win when it had won 234 seats. This is an unprecedented feat in the country’s political history as no other leader in Bangladesh has been able to win a third consecutive term.

Key Highlights

The Election Commission confirmed that Hasina won her Gopalganj-3 seat bagging over 2.29 lakh votes, while her Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) opponent got only 123 votes.

The ruling coalition has reportedly won more than 80 per cent of votes, making it the strongest governments in South Asia.

According to reports, the Grand Alliance-led by the Awami league won as many as 288 seats, while the opposition alliance won less than 10 seats.

The main opposition party BNP won five seats and the Gano Forum is reported to have won two seats. The remaining four seats were won by Independents.

The voting took place in 299 out of 300 seats on December 30. The voting was suspended for one seat due to the death of a candidate.

Polling amidst violence, claims of rigging

The opposition parties have rejected the results and claimed that the polls were rigged and fraudulence took place in almost all the polling centres.

Hasina and her government have also been accused of concerted persecution of its political opponents by critics and human rights organisations.

Further, at least 17 people including a member of a security agency were killed in eight districts and several others were injured in election-related violence.

According to reports, most of those who died were ruling party activists, while others were workers of the opposition alliance.

The authorities had also temporarily blocked mobile data services and slowed down the internet during the time, citing security reasons.

  Sheikh Hasina wins third consecutive term as Bangladesh Prime Minister

Significance

Bangladesh is a Muslim-majority nation of more than 160 million people and faces issues ranging from possibly devastating climate change, Islamist militancy, endemic poverty and corruption.

The country has recently been in the international spotlight as hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims have fled there from neighbouring Myanmar.

This year’s vote was the first one to involve all the major parties in the last 10 years.

Background

The national politics in Bangladesh has been largely dominated by two parties, the ruling Awami League and the BNP. The two parties lead the Grand Alliance and the Jatiya Oikya Front (JOF), respectively.

The main opposition party BNP has been facing a stiff challenge within, as its chairperson and former Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia is serving a five-year jail term in two corruption cases and is ineligible to contest the polls.

In Zia's absence, Kamal Hossain, who was previously both an AL minister and Hasina ally, leads the main opposition grouping, the Jatiya Oikya Front, which includes Zia's Bangladesh National Party (BNP).

2014 Elections

Bangladesh's parliament has 350 seats in total, 50 of which are reserved for women and allotted proportionally to the overall vote.

Sheikh Hasina's Awami League has been ruling in Bangladesh since 2009. In 2014, Bangladesh’s national elections were boycotted by many opposition parties including the BNP, giving Hasina's Awami League a walkover.

The Bangladesh Awami League had retained control of the Parliament by winning 234 out of the 300 seats at the time. The elections were also marred by widespread violence.

How is the win significant for India?

India and Bangladesh share a 4,000-km long border that has been marred by ethnic conflicts. Also, Bangladesh is a key component of India's "Look East" policy.

Under Hasina's regime, India has seen improved bilateral ties and boundary disputes have been settled amicably.

Besides this, strong security cooperation was established between the two nations and significant progress was made in settling differences over the Teesta River water sharing. The bilateral trade between the two nations and India's investment in Bangladesh has also picked up.

On the other hand, India’s relationship with the BNP-Jamaat alliance government during 2001-06 was not positive, owing to attacks on Hindus and anti-India activities in the country.

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