Dhaka, December 30: Voting for the crucial Bangladesh national elections 2018 began in full swing across the 300 parliamentary constituencies of the nation on Sunday. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, whose Awami League (AL) is ruling the nation since 2009, is eyeing for a record fourth term. The entire Opposition, led by jailed ex-premier Khaleda Zia's Bangladesh National Party (BNP), has united for what they have called a "fight to save democracy".
Voting, which began at 8am local time, has been marred with violence. At least two were killed and 10 others injured as clashes erupted between AL and BNP cadres. The polling is scheduled to conclude at 4pm, and the counting of votes would subsequently begin.
While the elections are being held in 294 constituencies using ballot paper, a total of six constituencies are contested contested through the electronic voting machines or EVMs -- a first in Bangladesh's electoral history.
The total number of candidates in the elections amount to 1,841, who are contesting across the 300 directly elected seats. Another 50 seats in the Parliament, referred in Bangladesh as Jatiya Sangsad, is reserved for women who are nominated by the political parties on proportional vote share system.
For the smooth conduct of the elections, the polling body has deployed over 6 lakh security personnel, including the Army, to guard the 40,199 voting stations. Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) KM Nurul Huda on Saturday instructed the forces to take stringent action against political workers resorting to violence.
Results of 2014 Bangladesh Elections:
In the last polls, Khaleda Zia's BNP, along with a slew of other Opposition parties, had boycotted the polls alleging mass rigging by the ruling Awami League.
The boycott allowed Sheikh Hasina to register a victory with brute mandate. The Awami League won 234 of the 300 seats -- out of which, 153 seats were bagged without a contest.