On December 30, 2018, the 11th parliamentary election took place, where the ruling party retained office for the third consecutive times. The landslide victory, according to media reports, was marred by anomalies. In this scenario, first time voters shared their experience of voting and concerns for future of democracy in Bangladesh, with New Age Youth
University of Dhaka
FOR the first time, I cast my vote. Therefore, it was very exciting for me. In the morning, we went to the centre and observed the condition. The environment of our village's voting centre was quit and calm. Men, women, youths alongside elderly citizens were casting their votes without any hesitation. But condition of another centre at my village was completely different. When we went to that centre, we saw supporters of ruling party were trying to stop peoples from casting their votes. As a young voter, my expectation was that the election will be free and fair and people will cast their vote according to their choices and freely. But unfortunately, it has not happened across the country. About 20 people have lost their lives during the election day in political violence. Really it has frustrated me. Finally, I would like to say, we must need development but not at cost of democracy. We need to ensure a pluralistic society where everyone and their opinions, political preference will be respected. We have to work for the nation with cooperation and fraternity basis.
MD Tarek Aziz Bappi
University of Dhaka
FIRSTLY, I am totally frustrated, heartbroken and afraid after experiencing such mockery, even in a democratic country, in the name of election. Moreover, I am ashamed to see such irregularity, nepotism and moral-bankruptcy of media, law enforcing bodies and other national and international opportunist cankers to justify such election and letting our democracy die!
As a first time voter, on the voting day, I went to the polling center early with full of vivacity and hope. But I was unprepared to see insufficient number of guards — only two policemen and three or four Ansar members who were busy to facilitate the ruling party activists for forging votes, multiple votes by ones, sealing on ballots using underage people and even voting on behalf of dead persons and immigrants. There were no polling agents of opposition in my center and whoever went to the polling room to cast their votes, were commanded by the ruling party's agents for direct sealing on the ballots before them and if anyone asked for secret voting, were harassed and even captured by the police. As a conscious citizen, amidst this circumstance, I phoned to the election commission monitoring cell for taking necessary steps but they didn't do anything to ensure a free, fair and fearless atmosphere in the polling center and I failed to exercise my democratic right in such way. What else can be much ironic than this? I am now concerned about the future of democracy in Bangladesh.
Govt Saadat University College
IT WAS my first experience of voting in a parliamentary election. So excitement was prevailing in my mind beforehand to the election and I was naturally hopeful that I would be able to utilise my vote as a first time voter. I was also hopeful that the voting process would be more festive and fanfare for the voters and the franchise application of all citizens would be ensured, where choosing their candidates without any intimidation would be possible. But what I witnessed in the polling centers nearby my village raised my eyebrows as illegal franchise application were encroached by the ruling party activists and there were not any polling agents of opposition party. Also, the disciplines inside voting stations were turned into a mess because of their mass voting. And in this case the role of law enforcers were deemed as like as statue of liberty. When I entered into the room to cast my vote, I was enforced by some activists to seal on the symbol of their candidate and, for such I had to deliver my much awaited first vote of my life on other people’s wish. From the scenario of voting process in the poling centers, and my first voting experience I can loudly say — this election is nothing but a mockery with the citizens and democratic rights of citizens have been detracted in name of this election.
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