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S M Mizanur Rahman
The ruling Awami League and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party are focusing on young people, and women voters in the 11th parliament elections, scheduled for December 30 this year.
The young people, especially those going to exercise their right of franchise for the first time in favour of their respective political parties, are very much enthusiastic. And these young people may play a vital role in the elections, experts say.
Besides, about 50 per cent female voters will also be the factor in the next election.
Both AL and BNP are now busy preparing their respective electoral manifestos keeping in mind the importance of young and female voters in the forthcoming polls.
According to insiders, apart from young and women voters, AL in its manifesto is attaching importance to government’s ‘success and development stories,’ while the BNP is focusing on what the party terms ‘restoration of democracy and rejuvenation of its activities’.
When contacted, Delwar Hossain, Professor, Department of International Relations, University of Dhaka said, the young and women voters are the major factor in the national elections in any country in the world.
“The young are always energetic and usually enthusiastic to work in favour of their respective candidates during polls. On the other hand, women voters also can play an important role in the general elections silently,” he said.
He said, as the country has witnessed tremendous development in the last 10 years of the present government, the young people will consider that aspect on voting day.
Besides, the young generation came to know the real history of the country’s independence, he added.
“History of the country’s liberation war had been distorted in many ways. But during the rule of father of the nation’s daughter, Sheikh Hasina, countrymen especially the young generation, know well about their country and the war of independence,” he said.
“So the young people will play a crucial role in the election,” Professor Delwar added.
He said, the people will now build a prosperous nation, based on the spirit of the Liberation War.
There are now a total of 10 crore 41 lakh voters. Of them, 5,25,12,105 are men (50.42 pc) while 5,16,30, 276 are female (49.58 pc). And 2.30 crore are young voters. Around 40 lakh young people have been enrolled in the electoral roll as fresh voters.
In the January 5 election of 2014, the country had a total of 9,19,65,977 voters and 8,10,87,003 during the 9th national election held on December 29, 2008.
AL President and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has already sought vote for AL from the young generation in the upcoming general election, to keep up the pace of development, calling them the biggest strength of the country.
Besides, all leaders believe that they will win the December 30 election as they associate in its development and attainment under their leader Sheikh Hasina with good behaviour.
AL is highlighting major development projects the government has implemented since 2009. The manifesto will list some ongoing mega projects to persuade people to vote for the party again for “continuation of development”.
Considering the number of young voters, the party seeks to target them with some slogans like “Power of the Youth is the Prosperity of Bangladesh” and “New Bangladesh for the Young Generation”, according to party sources .
Country’s young people would follow the path of history of the War of Liberation to build a prosperous nation as dreamt by the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the AL high command believes, party sources said.
On the other hand, BNP-led Jatiya Oikyafront has already drafted its electoral manifesto attaching importance to the young and female voters.
In the draft manifesto, it has been said that if BNP is voted to power, the party will implement the student and job seekers’ demand on extension of age limit for entry into government jobs to 35 from 30, sources said.
BNP leaders are desperate to regain lost support of the voters as it was responsible for creating an anarchic situation in the country that led to the declaration of emergency on January 11, 2007, known as the 1/11 changeover, and has been criticised widely at home and abroad for its role in the domestic political terrain.