Turnout is only 5 percent lowest ever in the electoral history of Bangladesh
Awami League-backed candidate for the Dhaka 10 by-poll, Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin, was unofficially declared elected after getting 15,955 votes.
Dhaka regional returning officer GM Sahtabuddin on Saturday evening announced the results at the Election Commission's temporary control room at the Teachers Training College.
Among the other contestants, BNP-backed Sheikh RobiulAlamRobi got 817 votes, Jatiya Party-backed Md Shahjahan 97, Pragatishil Ganatantrik Dal's Kazi Muhammad Abdur Rahim 63, Bangladesh Congress's Mizanur Rahman 18 and Bangladesh Muslim League's Nabab Khwaja Ali Hasan Askari 15.
He said the total voter turnout was 16,965, which is only 5.28 percent of the constituency's total 312,281 voters.
After voting ended, Sahtabuddin told journalists that voter turnout was a big success considering the fear of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Election Commission (EC) had tried to assure voters with adequate supply of hygienic material at every polling centre for the Dhaka 10 by-polls.
Voting started at 9:00 am in the presence of polling officials and law enforcement personnel who were prepared with electronic voting machines, digital ballot and voter list. There were crowds of ruling Awami League activists in and outside the centres.
There were only an insignificant number of voters at the centres.
People involved in the polling assumed that fear of coronavirus had discouraged voters from coming.
Till 10:30am, the Dhanmandi Government Girls High School polling centres saw only one voter.
Six polling centres at Meherunnisa School and College on Crescent Road were almost empty from the morning.
At 10:30am, Nazrul Islam Babul, councillor of Dhaka South City Corporation ward 16, entered the school escorted by a group of supporters.
After a few minutes, he was seen calling someone over the cell phone, "Send your wife and children. Vote casting is very poor."
Subrata Devnath, presiding officer of the centre, said his centre for 2,120 female voters saw only 17 till 10:30am.
After voting ended at 5pm, the total votes cast at the centre was 46, Subrata told The Business Standard.
In another centre, the total vote count was 110, said the centre's presiding officer Nure Alam.
Nearly three percent of 10,470 registered voters cast their votes at the Dhaka City College.
According to presiding officers at the centre, a total 292 votes were counted. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was among the voters.
In two polling centres at the Dhaka Laboratory School and College, only 274 out of 5,024, which is 5.45 percent, cast their votes, said presiding officer Md Anwar Hossain.
Khaleda Yeasmin, a housewife who voted at Dhaka City College, said, "It is a totally farcical arrangement and a waste of public money."
Mohammad Emdadul Haque, founding president of Ekattarer Kalomjoddha – a pro-AL cultural group, said "Voters might have presumed that this voting will be finished without their votes."
The Dhaka-10 constituency became vacant after Awami League MP Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh resigned on December 29 to contest the Dhaka South City Corporation election. The EC announced the election schedule for Dhaka 10 by-election on February 6.
At least six candidates had contested the by-poll.
A total of 2,500 returning and assistant returning officers and 1,552 polling officers had been deployed to facilitate the voting that continued from 9am to 5pm in 117 polling stations.
EVM slowed down voting again
Like the polling in Dhaka North and Dhaka South city corporations this year, some voters could not cast their votes due to problems with EVM machines.
Awami League candidate for the Dhaka-10 parliamentary seat, Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin, had to wait one hour to cast his vote at Lake Circus Girls School.
At a center of Dhaka City College, one voter Daizy Nasim failed to cast her vote as the voting machine didn't work properly.
Expressing frustration, she said, "I have come despite the risk of coronavirus, but I cannot cast my vote."
Poor presence of opposition supporters
BNP candidate Sheikh Robiul Alam Robi complained that ruling party activists and law enforcement personnel drove away around 850 polling agents of sheaf of paddy since of voting began.
A team of our correspondents visited around 15 centers across Dhaka-10 constituency and found no polling agents of opposition parties.
Wishing anonymity, a presiding officer at Jigatola Government Primary School said some Awami League activists put pressure on him to cast fake votes and tried to mishandle the voting machines.
Another team of our correspondents found Jakir Hossain Swapan, former Dhaka North City Corporation ward-15 councillor and local AL leader, directing his followers to cast at least five votes on behalf of assistant presiding officer at the Pragati Government Primary School polling centre.
Protection from coronavirus
All the presiding officers and people involved in election said amid the fear of coronavirus, they had all kinds of preparation including hand sanitiser and tissue paper.
TBS teams found that law enforcement personnel helped the voters sanitise their hands before and after casting votes.
All the on-duty law enforcers and election related workers were given protective gear including hand-gloves and masks.
Ahasan Habib, a presiding officer at Khan Ahsan Government Primary School polling centre, told The Business Standard that he received eight bottles of hand sanitiser and tissue papers from the EC.
"To ensure enough supply, I have bought additional bottles of hand sanitiser. If the voters are safe, all the people related to polling would be safe," he said.