ASSAM ASSEMBLY ELECTIONS
No untoward incidents, turnout to surpass
80 percent, says EC
Guwahati, April 4: Defying trends of earlier elections in which voting was always on the lower side, the electorate in 65 constituencies came out in large numbers and exercised their franchise in the first phase of the Assam assembly elections.
The average turnout in the 65 constituencies till 5 pm was 78.45 per cent, but election officials say it would cross 80 per cent - the highest ever turnout in any election in the State's history.
"The percentage was likely to increase as reports were still coming in from some remote constituencies," the officials said. A total number of 117 EVMs developed sgs during poll process. The malfunctioning EVMs were replaced immediately.
In these 65 LACS, the turnout in the last assembly elections was 73.21 per cent. A population of over 95 lakh was eligible to vote in these constituencies.
Polling started on a brisk note at 7 a.m., as long queues of people started forming in front of polling stations.
Officials said no violence was reported from anywhere during the first phase of the polls and balloting remained peaceful. No re-polling has been ordered.
Till reports last came in, Chabua recorded the highest turnout of 85.19 percent, followed by Behali at 85 and Biswath at 84 percent. In all these LACs, the turnout was up by 4-13 per cent as compared to the last assembly elections.
Sarupathar, however, recorded the lowest turnout at 67 per cent.
Titabor, from where Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi is contesting, recorded a turnout of 78 per cent, while 80 per cent of the electorate of Majuli - from where BJP's Sarbanda Sonowal is seeking mandate - cast their votes.
Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi seemed optimistic. "Polling was good and it was due to the significant increase in the number of young voters. I am hopeful that the Congress will do well," he said.
"I don't want to give you any numbers now, but our seats will be more than in the 2011 elections," Gogoi added.
"The resilience of our democratic polity will be in evidence once again as people come out to exercise their right to vote," the Chief Minister told the media after casting his vote.
The BJP's chief ministerial candidate Sarbanda Sonowal also thanked the people for coming out in such large numbers to vote.
"People want change and that is why they have come out in huge numbers. The BJP is going to become the single largest party in the State," said Sonowal, who is seeking election from Majuli, the world's largest riverine island.
The 65 constituencies which saw polling on Monday are mainly located in the tea belt in Upper Assam, areas north of the Brahmaputra river and in the Barak valley.
The second and fil phase of elections to pick a 126-member assembly will take place on April 11.
A total of 95,11,732 voters were eligible to decide the fate of 539 candidates in the first phase. There were 12,190 polling stations spread across 17 districts.
Of the total polling stations, 78 were staffed exclusively by women.
There were also 134 'model' polling stations which had a medical team and an eatery, and where elderly voters were felicitated in a traditiol manner.
In the first phase, the ruling Congress party is contesting in all the 65 constituencies while the BJP has put up candidates in 54 constituencies.
The All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), led by Moula Badruddin Ajmal, is contesting in 27 seats while the regiol party Asom Ga Parishad (AGP) is contesting in only 11 seats in alliance with the BJP.
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 valley are likely to see three-cornered fights between the Congress, the BJP-led alliance and AIUDF.
Other prominent faces in the State whose electoral fates were sealed in EVMs in the first phase of polling 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).