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Shakib Al Hasan, Bangladeshi cricketer, steps into politics with eye on 2024 elections

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Bangladeshi cricket sensation Shakib Al Hasan has officially stepped into the political arena, as he seeks a nomination from the ruling Bangladesh Awami League (BAL) for the upcoming general election on January 7 next year.

According to BAL joint secretary general Bahauddin Nasim, Shakib obtained nomination forms on Saturday from the party to vie for positions in three constituencies during the election. It’s worth noting that major opposition parties are planning to boycott the upcoming polls.

Confirmation of Shakib’s candidacy awaits the decision of a ruling party parliamentary board, led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

He expresses the desire to compete for a seat either in his southwestern home district of Magura or in the capital Dhaka, as stated by Nasim.

Shakib’s potential entry into politics is against the backdrop of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s longstanding leadership in the country of around 170 million people. She has faced criticism for authoritative governance but is widely expected to secure a fourth term in power if the opposition’s boycott materializes.

Despite the impressive economic growth under Hasina’s leadership, concerns about democratic regression have been raised by Western nations. The opposition accuses her of vote-rigging in the last two elections.

In South Asia, the transition from cricket to politics is not uncommon, given the sport’s massive popularity. However, engaging in politics while actively playing is a rare occurrence.

A notable example is former Bangladesh cricket captain Mashrafe Mortaza, who entered politics in 2018 and was elected as a lawmaker from the ruling party in the same year. Mortaza led Bangladesh in the 2019 World Cup before retiring from cricket to focus on his political career.

Currently, Shakib, the regular captain in all three formats for Bangladesh, is recovering from a finger injury that led him to opt-out of the upcoming Test series against New Zealand. The injury occurred during a World Cup match against Sri Lanka, where Shakib made headlines for an unusual appeal against Angelo Mathews, resulting in international cricket’s first-ever timed-out dismissal.

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