ASSAM ASSEMBLY ELECTIONS
By Our Staff Reporter
Guwahati, April 3: The electorate in 65 of the 126 constituencies will vote on Monday in one of the most bitterly-contested assembly elections Assam has ever witnessed.
The constituencies are located in 28 election districts and 17 revenue districts - Karimganj, Hailakandi, Cachar, Dima Hasao, Karbi Anglong, West Karbi Anglong, Udalguri, Sonitpur, Biswath, Lakhimpur, Dhemaji, Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, Golaghat, Sivasagar, Charaideo and Jorhat. The constituencies mainly include those in Upper Assam, north bank of Brahmaputra river and in Barak valley.
Over 95 lakh voters - male 49,16,015, female 45,95,712 - will decide the fate of 539 candidates contesting in the first phase of the elections.
Polling will begin at 7 am and end at 5 pm.
Chief Electoral Officer Vijayendra said polling parties will reach polling stations by this evening.
"Most of the polling parties have left today. In some cases, where polling stations are in remote areas, the parties had moved on Saturday itself," he said.
Besides heavy, medium and light vehicles, 144 boats and 35 bullock carts are being used to reach the polling stations.
Out of total 12,190 polling stations in the first phase, 3,739 have been identified as sensitive, 1,992 as hyper sensitive and 1,241 as critical. Altogether 999 are in "shadow areas" where there is no mobile or land phone connectivity. In these shadow areas, election officials will use police radio service.
The CEO said micro observers have been deployed and arrangements for videographing and webcasting have been made in some critical polling stations.
Altogether 535 companies of security forces, including 433 central armed paramilitary forces have been deployed in the first phase, he added.
As per Election Commission directive, 134 model polling stations have been set up for the first phase and another 78 polling stations would be manned by all-women teams. The modal polling stations will have features like welcoming parties, medical teams, eateries, felicitation of the eldest voter and tree plantation programmes.
The CEO further informed that over Rs 11 crore cash, 7.85 lakh litre liquor and 5.15 kgs of drugs have been seized so far.
Moreover, out of 29,021 licensed arms in the State, 26067 have been deposited and 166 illegal arms and 538 ammunition recovered.
Among the key candidates whose fate will be decided tomorrow is Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi who is seeking a mandate for the fifth term in Titabor constituency.
The Bharatiya Jata Party (BJP) has pitted Lok Sabha MP and tea tribe leader Kamakhya Prasad Tasha against Gogoi.
BJP's chief ministerial candidate Sarbanda Sonowal will seek a mandate from Majuli constituency, from where the Congress has fielded sitting legislator and former minister Rajib Lochan Pegu.
In the first phase, the ruling Congress party will contest in all the 65 constituencies while the Bharatiya Jata Party (BJP) has put up candidates in 54 constituencies.
The All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), led by perfume baron Moula Badruddin Ajmal, is contesting in 27 seats while the regiol party Asom Ga Parishad (AGP) is contesting in only 11 seats.
There are 280 Independent candidates in the electoral fray for the first phase of polls, along with 65 other candidates representing some lesser known or unregistered parties.
While most of the constituencies will see straight electoral battles between the ruling Congress and candidates put up by the BJP, AGP and Bodoland Peoples' Front (BPF) alliance in Upper Assam and in north bank of river Brahmaputra, the constituencies in Barak Valleys are likely to see three-cornered fights between the Congress, the BJP-led alliance and AIUDF.
Other prominent faces in the State who would seek mandate in the first phase include Speaker Prab Kumar Gogoi (Sivasagar), Public Works Department minister Ajanta Neog (Golaghat), Cultural Minister Bismita Gogoi (Khumtai), former Union minister Paban Singh Ghatowar (Moran), AGP leader Brindaban Goswami (Tezpur), AGP president Atul Bora (Bokakhat), former Congress minister Pradyut Bordoloi (Margherita), Education minister Sarat Barkataky (Sori), Congress leader Prithvi Majhi (Lahowal), former minister Hitendrath Goswami (Jorhat), Social Welfare minister Gautam Roy (Katlichera), Commerce minister Siddeque Ahmed (Karimganj South), Congress leader Bharat rah (Dhakuakho), BJP's Padma Hazarika (Sootea), BPF's Rihon Daimary (Udalguri) and former AASU general secretary Tapan Kumar Gogoi (Sori).
"We are hopeful for a peaceful and incident-free poll tomorrow. We expect a turn-out of over 80 per cent," the Chief Electoral Officer said.
The second phase of polls for 61 seats of the 126-member assembly will be held on April 11.