Campaigning has ended for Bangladesh’s December 30, 2018 , General Election as army troops patrolled the streets along with paramilitary forces and police with intensified nationwide security before voting , according to various media reports.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina seeks to retain power for a third consecutive term while Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) of jailed ex-premier Khaleda Zia is its main rival. There will not be direct contest between Zia and PM Hasina, as Zia is cooling her heels in jail for graft charges. Under Hasina, Bangladesh had maintained steady ties with India ,but a poll reversal could alter the equation.
“I expect the law enforcement agencies to ensure security so the people cast vote freely to their desired candidates and return home safely,” Chief Election Commissioner Nurul Huda said as the military and paramilitary forces set up makeshift camps across the country after being called out on election duty.
Huda asked security agencies to keep an extra vigil on religious minority communities during the voting on Sunday as media reports said at least three Hindu households were set on fire by miscreants between December 16 and 26.
“The elections particularly in 2001 and 2014 appeared as a nightmare as far as minority communities were concerned, the situation is good this time barring the three arson attacks in Feni and Thakurgaon,” Bangladesh Hindu-Buddhist-Christian Unity Council spokesman Kajol Debnath told PTI.
He said minority community leaders held a series of meetings with the Election Commission and law enforcement agencies who promised to pursue a ‘zero tolerance’ policy against any attack or intimidation.
Law enforcement agencies in major cities are checking vehicles as part of their vigil as some 600,000 security personnel including several thousand soldiers and paramilitary border guards were deployed across the country.