Wednesday, October 3, 2001, Chandigarh, India





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Landslide win for BNP
Hasina cries conspiracy

Dhaka, October 2
Former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP)-led coalition today romped home with a two-third majority in the 300-member Parliament, handing out its main rival Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League its worst electoral drubbing.

But Ms Hasina rejected the outcome of the election, alleging there was a "conspiracy" to "manipulate" the election and threatened agitation. It was not immediatly clear if Awami League will join Parliament with Ms Hasina merely saying "a decision would be taken when time comes."

With results of 282 of the total of 300 parliamentary constituencies available, the four-party combine led by the BNP secured 202 and its ally fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami bagged 16, two less than its best performance of 18 in 1991 poll.

The BNP with 186 seats in its kitty was itself in a position to form the new government on its own.

The Awami League, which fought the poll alone, bagged just 61 seats, the party’s most severe electoral drubbing after 1979. Islamic Jatiya Okiya Jote, a party floated by former military ruler H.M. Ershad, managed 12 seats.

An elated Begum Zia, who became Bangladesh’s first woman Prime Minister in 1991 coming out of her role as the recluse wife of assassinated President Zia-ur-Rahman, said "I’m overwhelmed with the massive support and love of the people."

Ms Hasina accused the country’s caretaker government, to which she handed over power in July to oversee the poll, and the Election Commission, of jointly preparing a blueprint to manipulate the election.

Ms Hasina’s reaction came even as a team of poll observers from the European Union asked the parties to accept the poll verdict, saying that the electoral process had "guaranteed sufficient conditions of freedom and fairness." Ms Hasina said the poll was free but "not fair" as there was "crude rigging."

Jeaquium Miranda Da Silva, chief observer of the EU mission, told a post-eleciton press conference that 72 observers were present in more than a third of all constituencies and more than half of the 64 districts of Bangladesh. PTIBack

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