Dhaka, Dec 15 (UNB) - A total of 25 million young people, those aged between 18 to 28, are expected to play a vital role in upcoming general elections scheduled for December 30.
There were 13.7 million new voters during the January 5, 2014 elections but most of them could not cast their votes as voting was not held in 154 constituencies at the time and major opposition parties boycotted the polls. In addition to them, 12.3 million new voters have been added to the list for exercising their franchise this year.
Almost 25 million people, comprising 22 percent of the total voters, are going to cast their votes for the first time in the next general elections.
Considering the fact, major political parties including Bangladesh Awami League and Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) are considering various strategies, with the aim to settle efficient steps to attract the new voters.
While talking to UNB, many young voters said, using younger leaders, focusing youth demands on further economic growth and digitalization, and promoting youth-friendly policies may in fact help politicians win them over.
“We always want such leaders who understand our demands and expectations. Although older leaders have more experience in politics or others sectors, but most of them have little knowledge on internet and technology. That’s why I always like to vote for someone younger with more progressive and liberal values and someone in whom I see my own image,” said Hayder Ali, a second year student of Accounting and Information system department of Dhaka University (DU).
Rafia Haq Sristy, a student of Mass Communication and Journalism Department of DU said, “We want whichever party or alliance will come to the power must do so through free and fair election. If they are not elected by the people, they don’t have any responsibilities to the people and country.”
Sayed Mohammad Arafatur Rahaman, a masters student of Peace and Conflict department of DU said, “as Bangladesh has attained all the criteria for graduation from the least-developed country (LDC) group to a developing one this year, officially bout to move out of the LDC category within the next few years, I will definitely cast my vote for that very particular political party or leadership which can lead this development to sustainable progress.”
“Youths are always the decision-makers in Bangladesh election.In 2008 national election youth voted Awami League because of their commitment to create digital Bangladesh. That time Awami League’s‘Digital Bangladesh’ slogan attracted most of the youth,” said Liton Nandi, central general Secretary of Bangladesh Chhatra Union.
“Now the situation is different. The recent road safety movement and quota reform movement will affect the upcoming election. The two massive protests ultimately will go against the government,” he added.
Mohammad Rashed Khan, joint convener of Bangladesh Sadharan Chhatra Odhikar Sangrakkhon Parishad (Bangladesh General Students’ Rights Protection Council), a platform that led the recent reform movement, said, “The main problem of our country is unemployment. After completing graduation and post-graduation, it was seen that most of the graduates didn’t find jobs. As a result, the number of educated unemployed is increasing day by day.”
“We already submitted a youth manifesto to the major political parties where we had described the necessity of creating new opportunities for youth. Now we are eagerly waiting to see what steps the parties are taking to create employment opportunities.”
“The Ruling Awami League oppressed the people in the last ten years. The youth are also victims of this oppression. That’s why we hope the young generation won’t support the ruling party,” said Saiful Islam Firoz, a young MP candidate of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), who is contesting for the first time from Jhenidah-4 told UNB.
“The youth supported the Bangladesh Awami League in last two general elections. The government also successfully fulfilled all its commitments to the youth in the last ten years. We are trying every possible way to attract the youth in upcoming election too. We hope the young generation will support us in the election,” said Nazrul Islam Babu, MP of Narayanganj-2 of the ruling Awami League.