Nearly 79 % polling till 5 p.m. in Assam


GUWAHATI, April 6  Around 79 per cent of the total of 79,19,641 voters exercised their franchise till 5 p.m. in the third and final phase of the Assam Assembly polls, held in 40 constituencies amid tight security on Tuesday, according to election officials.

The final phase would decide the fate of 337 candidates, including 25 women aspirants. All Covid-19 protocols including social distancing and thermal screening are being maintained.

Election officials said that except some minor incidents, no major untoward incident was reported from anywhere of the 12 western Assam districts, bordering Bhutan, West Bengal and Arunachal Pradesh, where polling took place peacefully and smoothly.

The voters comprising men, women and the first time electorates, in large numbers queued up in front of the polling stations well before they opened at 7 a.m. The Election Commission has extended an hour for polling in view of the Covid-19 induced situations.

According to the state’s Chief Electoral Officer Nitin Khade, a total of 79,19,641 voters, including 39,07,963 women electorates, are eligible to cast their ballots across 9,587 polling stations in 6,107 locations. Of the 9,587 polling stations, 316 are all women managed polling stations. Khade told the media that around 32,000 Central Armed Police Forces, along with thousands of state security force personnel, have been deployed to maintain law and order during this phase in which 45,604 polling personnel were engaged to conduct the polls.

Tuesday’s electoral battle is crucial for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the opposition Congress as both won 11 seats each in the 2016 Assembly polls. The BJP’s ally Asom Gana Parishad had bagged four seats, while the Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) and All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) secured eight and six seats, respectively.

Both the BPF and the AIUDF this time are part of the Congress-led ‘Mahajot’ (grand alliance). In the last elections, the BPF was with the BJP and the AIUDF fought independently. Tuesday’s polling would also decide the fate of five ministers including Finance, Health, Education, PWD Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, Industry Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary, and Guwahati Department Minister Siddhartha Bhattacharya and the ruling party’s state President Ranjeet Kumar Dass.

Sarma, convener of the BJP backed anti-Congress body North East Democratic Alliance, is contesting from the Jalukbari seat from where he has consecutively won since 2001. Meanwhile, Dass is contesting from the Patacharkuchi seat. In the 2016 elections, he was elected to the Assembly from the Sorbhog constituency. Nearly 81 per cent of the 73,44,631 voters exercised their franchise in the second phase across 39 constituencies on April 1. Around 80 per cent of 81,09,815 voters cast their votes on March 27 in the first phase in 47 constituencies. The results will be declared on May 2.

IANS

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