A total of 3,67,000 new voters have been added to the updated voter list in Khulna district, taking the total number of voters to 18,00,656, who would exercise their franchise in the December 30 election.
Of the total voters, 9,02,631 are male and 8,98,025 female.
The number of voters was 14,42,862 in the 2008 ninth parliamentary election, according to the Election Commission.
With the addition of around 4 lakh voters in the last 10 years, the battle of ballots for the election in the district's six constituencies rely largely on the candidates' ability to sway the young and first-time voters.
Political parties are trying to reach out to the new voters through engaging in dialogues and visiting educational institutions.
But the youths are on alert and waiting for the election manifestos as well as comparing their (candidates') previous pledges and performances as well as educational backgrounds. They are also looking into the affidavits.
In 2008, Panchanon Biswas of Awami League defeated BNP's Amir Ezaz Khan by 52,381 votes in Khulna-1 (Batiyaghata-Dacope). Both of them got party tickets this time. This year, around 41,626 new voters will cast votes in the constituency, which could play a crucial role in the polls results.
In Khulna-2 (Sadar, Sonadanga), Nazrul Islam Monju of BNP defeated AL's Mizanur Rahman Mizan by 1,670 votes in 2008. This year, 55,672 new voters might end up deciding the fate of AL's Sheikh Jewel and BNP's Monju.
In Khulna-3 (Khalishpur, Khan Jahan Ali), former state minister for labour and employment Begum Monnujan Sufian of AL won by 16,501 votes, defeating BNP's Shekender Ali Dalim. This year, the constituency has 43,000 new voters.
Former FBCCI president and AL candidate Abdul Salam Murshedi and BNP's Azizul Bari Helal are vying for Khulna-4 (Rupsa, Terokhada, Dighalia). In 2008, the AL candidate defeated BNP candidate by 11,669 votes. This year, 77,585 new voters will decide the next MP.
“We are keenly observing the candidates and waiting for the manifestos,” said Rejesh Golder, a master's student at Khulna University (KU).
Matiur Rahman, a journalism student at KU, said, “We don't want a loan defaulter or corrupt person as candidate.”
Shornali Golder, a student of Daulatpur Day-Night College, hoped that the candidates would address women's rights issues.
Many of the first-time voters, mostly students, said they want a lawmaker who would engage in dialogues with them, listen to their issues and work for development of the education sector as well as create employment opportunity for them.
Many new voters also include working-class youths.
Ismail Sheikh, 22, who works at a city garage, said he wants a lawmaker who would create jobs and revive the jute industry.
Contacted, Advocate Kudrat-e-Khuda, district secretary of Sushashoner Jonno Nagorik, said, “Youths will play a vital role in ensuring victory or defeat of any aspirant. Also, voters need to consider transparency and accountability of a candidate.”