Former Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed's Awami League-led key political alliance in Bangladesh on Wednesday decided to boycott the upcoming January 22 elections in the country alleging that free and fair polls were not possible under the present caretaker government.
"We have decided not to take part in the elections as we can't give legitimacy to any poll which is set to be rigged under a blueprint," Hasina told a crowded press conference here joined by her alliance partners including former military ruler HM Ershad of Jatiya Party (JP) and ex-president Badruddoza Chowdhury of Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).
"We want to take part in the polls which will reflect the peoples will, but that is not possible keeping President Iajuddin Ahmed as the chief adviser of the interim caretaker government," she said.
She alleged that Ahmed was "illegally" holding the post of interim government chief "and he wants to hold elections without a correct voter list".
Hasina said her alliance had tried "everything possible" to take part in the polls "knowing it well that Ahmed is neither non-partisan nor neutral" but expecting him to act in line with the constitution in the interest of the people".
"But it appeared impossible as we continued to witness that he is acting under the diktat of Hawa Bhaban to engineer (manipulate) the polls," she said in an oblique reference to her arch rival former Prime Minister and leader of Bangladesh National Party (BNP) Khaleda Zia.
"The election commission had promised to correct the voters roll, but instead they scrapped the names of our supporters and put in names of a huge number of fake voters as part of the election engineering process," Hasina said.
The mega alliance after a protracted street campaign made an abrupt shift to poll campaign two weeks ago as the election commission promised to correct the "rigged electoral roll" and a "controversial" election commissioner went on a long leave.
On Tuesday, ex-military ruler HM Ershad's Jatiya Party, a crucial partner in Hasina's 'mega alliance' and considered kingmaker in this month's general elections, had said it would boycott the polls.