Sunday's election revealed an intriguing voting behaviour in Barishal district. In the district's six constituencies, the BNP candidates not only suffered a crushing defeat, but two of its runners did not even get a single vote in many polling centres.
In Barishal-1 (Gournadi and Agailjhara), BNP candidate Jahiruddin Swapan got zero votes in 26 out of 115 polling centres. He got one vote in nine centres, according to the centre-wise result sheets signed by the returning officer.
Swapan, a former lawmaker and BNP central leader, got less than 10 votes in 40 polling stations.
Out of 2,11,507 votes cast in 115 centres, he bagged only 1,305, less than the number (1,415) obtained by the Islami Andolan Bangladesh's candidate.
Swapan's rival Awami League's heavyweight Abul Hasnat Abdullah did a lot better by bagging 2,05,502 votes.
The former chief whip secured all votes in seven polling centres, leaving his challengers with zero votes.
"The results prove that this was a rigged election. This was the picture in all other seats," Swapan told this newspaper.
Harisur Islam Haris, member secretary of the AL election conducting committee for Barishal-1, said, "People extended their support for the development work that the present government has done and that's why they voted for Awami League candidates."
About the reason for Swapan getting no votes in some centres, he said the voters rejected Swapan and he could not campaign.
In the 2001 polls, Swapan beat Hasnat by around 14,000 votes. He got 81,791 votes while his rival obtained 67,760 votes.
In the 2008 elections, there was also a close contest between the AL and BNP even though Hasnat did not run and Swapan was not picked by his party.
AL runner Talukdar Md Yunus had got 98,245 votes while BNP contestant Abdus Sobhan secured 70,969 votes.
BNP candidate Sardar Sarfuddin Ahmed in Barishal-2 (Uzirpur and Banaripara) did a little better than Swapan in this election.
Sarfuddin did not get a single vote in four out of the 136 polling centres. He got less than 10 votes in six centres.
He bagged 11,137 votes and became second and his opponent ruling party candidate Shahe Alam won with 2,12,344 votes.
There was a tough battle between the candidates of the AL and the BNP in 2008. AL candidate Monirul Islam was victorious bagging more than 1 lakh votes.
In Barishal-3, the AL-led grand alliance picked Workers Party candidate Tipu Sultan with AL electoral symbol “Boat”. But he lost to incumbent Jatiya Party lawmaker Golam Kibria Tipu.
BNP candidate Zainul Abedin was second in the polls. He alone got 47,287 votes while his party contestants in the five other seats jointly got 66,744 votes.
Of the remaining seats in Barishal district, AL won two while JP won one.
VOTING TRENDS IN BARISHAL
In Sunday's election, AL candidates in the six constituencies got 82 percent of the total votes cast, 13.34 lakh.
The BNP got only 9 percent and Islami Andolan Bangladesh got 5.40 percent of the votes.
The difference in the number of votes obtained by the AL and the BNP candidates was not so wide in the 2008 and 2001 polls. The BNP had boycotted the 2014 election.
In 2008, the AL, the BNP and the JP candidates won two seats each. The AL-led alliance, which included JP, got 48 percent of the 11.17 lakh votes cast while the BNP got 36 percent.
The BNP-led four-party alliance had a landslide victory in 2001 with its candidates winning all six seats. The BNP-led alliance candidates got 51 percent of the total 8.58 lakh votes cast. The AL nominees got 32 percent.
In the 1996 (June 12) election, the AL had returned to power after 21 years and won two seats in Barishal. The JP had won one.
Despite their defeat in the national polls, the BNP candidates won three seats.
In 1991, the first election after restoration of democracy, the BNP came to power with a simple majority. It won three seats in Barishal. The AL managed to win two seats while the Workers Party got one.
The voting pattern in previous elections indicates that neither the AL nor the BNP had absolute dominance in Barishal. But the outcome of Sunday's election gave a different picture.