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Over half of registered parties boycott polls

Taib Ahmed

The nominated candidates of the Awami League and its allies submit their nomination papers at the office of divisional commissioner in Dhaka on Monday, the last day for submission for the upcoming 10th parliamentary elections. — Indrajit Ghosh  The nominated candidates of the Awami League and its allies submit their nomination papers at the office of divisional commissioner in Dhaka on Monday, the last day for submission for the upcoming 10th parliamentary elections. — Indrajit Ghosh

A total of 1,107 candidates from 14 political parties, mostly belonging to the Awami League-led governing coalition, have submitted nomination papers for contesting the 10th parliamentary election with most of the political parties,
including the Bangladesh Nationalist Party-led opposition, boycotting the polls.
It was the lowest total of nomination papers submitted for any general election in the history of Bangladesh. Seven constituencies have only a single candidate each.
They are immediate past home minister Muhiuddin Khan
Alamgir for Chandpur 1, Nuruzzaman Ahmed for Lalmonirhat 2, Amanur Rahman Khan Rana for Tangail 3, Momtaj Begum for Manikganj 2, Mohammad Abdus Shahid for Moulvibazar 4, Morshed Alam for Noakhali 2 and Sheikh Afil Uddin for Jessore 1.
Monday was the last date for submitting nomination papers for the 10th parliamentary polls scheduled for January 5.
Out of a total of 41 registered political parties in the country, candidates from 14 political parties have submitted nomination papers.
The Representation of The People Order 1972 stipulates that the candidates will have to be a member of any registered political party to contest parliamentary polls. However, anyone can contest the polls as an independent candidate.
The ruling Awami League and its governing coalition partners the Ershad-led Jatiya Party, Jatiya Party-JP, Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (Inu) and Workers Party of Bangladesh submitted nomination papers.
Allies of the AL – Bangladesh Tariqat Federation and Bangladesh National Awami Party and the newly floated Bangladesh Nationalist Front – are also in the race.
Besides, candidates from Islamic Front Bangladesh, Khelafat Majlish, Bangladesh Jatiya Party (Matin), Gana Front and Bangladesh Khelafat Majlish also submitted nomination papers for the January 5 polls.
The BNP-led opposition, which has been in movement for restoration of the caretaker government to oversee the parliamentary polls, said it would not only boycott the ‘unilateral’ polls, but would also ‘resist’ it.  
A total of 12 political parties of the BNP-led ‘18-party’ alliance are registered with the Election Commission. Of the 14 registered parties of the opposition alliance, the High Court declared illegal the registration of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami, a major ally of the BNP.
In the ninth general election held in 2008, a total of 2,460 candidates submitted their nomination papers while a total of 4,146 aspirant candidates had submitted nomination papers in the 9th parliamentary polls which were scheduled for January 22, 2007 but were later cancelled.
In the 2001 general election, the total number of nomination submission was 2,563.
In the 1996 general election, a total of 3,096 candidates submitted nomination papers.
A total of 1,987 candidates submitted nomination papers in the February 15 elections in 1996 while the number of final candidates was 1,450 in the controversial polls.
The February 15 election was boycotted by the Awami League, Jamaat-e-Islami and other political parties belonging to the opposition at that time.
The number of nomination papers submitted in the 1991 general election was 3,855.
The final candidates in the 1988 general election was 1,192, in 1986 it was 1,980, the number was 2,547 in 1979, and 1,209 candidates in 1973 general elections.
The chief election commissioner, Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmad, on November 25 announced the election schedule in a televised address to the nation setting January 5 as the polling date.
According to the schedule, the aspiring candidates could collect nomination papers and submit them until December 2.
Returning officers would scrutinise the nomination papers in December 5- 6. The candidates would be able to withdraw their candidatures until December 13 while the EC would allocate election symbols on December 14.
According to the electoral code of conduct for the political parties and candidates in the parliamentary polls, the candidates would begin electioneering three weeks before the polling day.
Accordingly, the candidates would not be able to start election campaigns before getting their election symbols.
A total of 9,19,66,290  voters – of them 4,58,42,972 women – are eligible to exercise their franchise this time to elect their representatives in parliament.
The EC would set up about 1,89,000 polling booths in about 38,000 polling stations across the country. About six lakh polling officials will be engaged in conducting the polls.
The EC has appointed 66 returning officers for conducting the polls to 300 parliamentary constituencies. All deputy commissioners of the 64 districts will discharge the duty of returning officer in their respective district and the divisional commissioners of Dhaka and Chittagong will act as returning officer in Dhaka and Chittagong metropolitan areas.
The EC has appointed 577 assistant returning officers for the poll. All the Thana Nirbahi Officers, assistant commissioners (land) in some upazilas and 16 district election officers in some upazilas have been appointed as the assistant returning officers.

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