KOLKATA/ GUWAHATI: The first phase of Assembly polls in West Bengal and Assam today passed off peacefully, with a high voter turnout of 81 and 78 per cent respectively in the two states.
Voting in 18 of the 294 Assembly constituencies in West Bengal and 65 of the 126 seats in Assam was "by and large peaceful" with no reports of violence-related death or injury, Deputy Election Commissioner Sandeep Saxena told reporters in Delhi.
Braving the sweltering heat and oppressive humidity, nearly 81 percent of the 40 lakh voters cast their ballot in three Maoist-affected districts of West Bengal on Monday in the first phase of the assembly polls covering 18 constituencies. READ MORE
Over 78 percent of the 95 lakh electorate cast their ballot on Monday in the first round of assembly elections to pick 65 legislators in Assam, officials said Officials said 78.02 percent turnout was recorded till close of polling, but the percentage was likely to increase as reports were still coming in from some remote constituencies. READ MORE
- 06:30 PM: Assam Records Over 60 Percent Polling
Over 60 percent of the 95 lakh electorate cast their ballot till 3.30 p.m. on Monday in the first round of assembly elections to pick 65 legislators in Assam, officials here said.
Additional Chief Electoral Officer Nitin Khade said 61.34 percent polling was recorded till 3.30 p.m.
The 65 constituencies which saw polling on Monday are mainly located in the tea belt, north of the Brahmaputra river and in the Barak Valley. These include three seats reserved for Dalits and 10 for tribals.
"Polling has been peaceful," Khade told IANS. READ MORE
- 6:00 PM: 93 EVMs Malfunction, Replaced in Assam During Phase-1 Polls
At least 93 Electronic Voting Machines malfunctioned and were replaced during the first phase of Assembly polls in 65 constituencies in Assam, where the two-phase election process started today.
Election Commission officials said the number was likely to go up as the day comes to an end.
The highest number of malfunctioning EVMs were witnessed in Sivasagar election district.
"We have changed 12 machines at different places in three constituencies - Sivasagar, Amguri and Thowra. Besides, some other machines developed snag and were corrected by engineers," Sivasagar Returning Officer Virendra Mittal told. READ MORE
- 5:00 PM: 79 Percent Polling Till 5 PM in West Bengal
Registering a heavy turnout, an estimated 79 per cent electorate today cast their votes in the first part of the first phase of assembly polls in 18 West Bengal constituencies till 5 PM, Election Commission sources said. Many of these seats are located in areas which had earlier witnessed Maoist violence.
Election Commission sources said there was no report of any violence or disturbance from anywhere.
Polling will be held in another 31 seats in second part of the first phase to be held on April 11. READ MORE
- 04:00 PM: First Time Voters, Women Flock to Poll Booths in Assam
Enthusiastic first time voters and women were seen in large numbers since early this morning in most of the polling stations where first phase of Assam Assembly polls are underway.
Buoyed by a pleasant weather, young voters and women were seen queueing up before polling station to exercise their franchise to decide the fate of 539 candidates, including 43 women, in 65 of the 126 Assembly constituencies in state.
"I am very excited to vote for the first time and participate in the democratic process to elect my representative to the state Assembly," said 19-year-old Mayank Bora, an engineering student who reached the polling booth in Jorhat constituency early this morning. READ MORE
- 03:00 PM: Over 63 Percent Polling in Six Hours in First Phase of Bengal Polls
Despite the sweltering heat, brisk polling was recorded with over 63 percent of the electorate exercising their franchise in the first six hours of voting in 18 constituencies in the first phase of the West Bengal assembly elections on Monday.
There will be seven days of polling for 294 assembly seats. The last day of polling is scheduled on May 5.
Polling booths opened amid tight security at 7 a.m. in the 18 constituencies -- nine in Purulia district, three in Bankura district and six in West Midnapore district. READ MORE
- 02:43 PM: Will Carry My Father's Legacy Forward, Says Dalmiya Daughter
Former BCCI president Jagmohan Dalmiya's daughter Vaishali, who is fighting West Bengal Assembly polls on a Trinamool Congress ticket, says she wants to carry the rich legacy of her father in public life.
"Many people know me because of my father. And since I belong to the family so they trust me more. I have inherited the legacy of my father and will take it forward in public life," Dalmiya told PTI.
The 47-year-old, active in social work since an early age, is contesting from Bally constituency in neighbouring Howrah district. READ MORE
- 02:00 PM: 51 Percent Polling Till 2 PM in Assam
An estimated 51 per cent polling was recorded till 2 PM today in 65 constituencies of Assam to decide the fate of 539 contestants during the first phase of Assembly elections.
Half of the 95,11,732 voters including Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi have cast their votes so far, election office sources said, adding 50.83 per cent polling was recorded across 2190 polling stations in 65 constituencies till 2 PM.
Besides Tarun Gogoi, the fates of BJP's Chief Ministerial candidate Sarbananda Sonowal and his alliance partner AGP's Working President Atul Bora will be decided in the first phase polls. READ MORE
- 01:13 PM: People Want Change in Assam: Sarbananda Sonowal
BJP's chief ministerial candidate Sarbananda Sonowal today said people were voting in the Assam Assembly elections for a change as they wanted development in the state.
"People want change (Congress government) for a free, clean and efficient government. They want an administration that protects their culture too", said Sonowal who is contesting from Majuli, Asia's largest fresh water island in the Brahmaputra.
He also said that the youth of the state were very enthusiastic about a change as even those living outside, including many from abroad, had come to cast their vote here. READ MORE
- 12:00 PM: First 4 Hours Witness Heavy Turnout in West Bengal Polls
The first four hours of polling in 18 constituencies of West Bengal, many of which are in Left-wing extremism-hit areas, witnessed a heavy turnout as more than 45 per cent people cast their votes till 11 AM in the first of the six-phase Assembly elections.
Election Commission officials said the polling percentage was 45.14 per cent in the three districts of West Midnapore, Purulia and Bankura till 11 AM as people queued outside polling booths since morning to exercise their franchise. So far there has been no reports of any violence or disturbance. READ MORE
- 10:20 AM: 20 Percent Votes Cast in First Couple of Hours in Assam
At least 20 per cent voters in Assam exercised their franchise during the initial hours of polling to decide the fate of 539 contestants in 65 constituencies in the first phase of Assembly election held today amid tight security.
Voters, particularly women and first timers, were seen queuing at polling booths from 5 AM to participate in the democratic process where the ruling Congress, the BJP-AGP-BPF alliance and the AIUDF are locked in a keen battle.
Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, along with his wife Dolly Gogoi, son and MP Gaurav Gogoi and brother Deep Gogoi, cast his ballot at the polling station in Debicharan Baruah Girls High School in Jorhat.
There were reports of malfunctioning of electronic voting machines (EVMs) in some polling centres due to which voting was affected for some time but they were swifty replaced, election office said. READ MORE
- 9:55 AM: 23 Percent Turnout in First Two Hours of Bengal Polls
Around 23 percent of polling was reported in the first two hours for the first phase of assembly elections that began at 7.00 a.m. in West Bengal on Monday.
Polling began in 18 constituencies spread across three western districts of West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia amid tight security.
The 18 poll-going constituencies include -- nine in Purulia, three in Bankura and six in West Midnapore.
"A little over 23 percent turnout has been recorded in the first two hours. There are no reports of violence," said an election commission official. READ MORE
Confident Gogoi Dubs BJP Alliance a 'Mess'
Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on Monday sounded confident of getting another term in the office, and described the BJP’s tie-up with Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), Bodo People’s Front (BPF) a ‘mess’.
Talking to the reporters after casting his vote, Gogoi said there is no anti-incumbency against his government in the state.
“What kind of government would the BJP form in which there is Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), Bodo People’s Front (BPF)... they won’t form the government. Their alliance is a ‘Maha-khichdi’ (mess), which the people of Assam won’t be able to digest,” he added. READ MORE
- 7:15 AM: Voting began in the first phase of assembly elections in Assam involving 65 constituencies and West Bengal in 18 constituencies.
In West Bengal as many as 40,09,171 electors including 16 transgender voters will exercise their franchise in the first stage which has 133 candidates in the fray.
In Assam a total of 95,11,732 voters, including 45,95,712 females, will decide the fate of 539 candidates, including Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi in Titabar constituency, and the BJP's chief ministerial candidate Sarbananda Sonowal in Majuli.
In 13 Left Wing Extremism (LWE) affected constituencies in Bengal, polling will end two hours early at 4 p.m.
First phase of West Bengal Assembly polls begins in 18 seats
The first of the six-phase Assembly election in West Bengal began at 7 AM today in 18 constituencies in the Left-wing extremism-affected areas.
A tight multi-layered security ring was thrown in the three districts of West Midnapore, Purulia and Bankura to tackle any threat by Maoists. Phase 1(a) of the election will decide the fate of 133 candidates, including 11 women, fighting from the 18 constituencies.
Out of them, 13 seats have been roughly classified as LWE-affected areas by the Election Commission where voting will end early at 4 pm due to security considerations.
In the remaining five constituencies of Purulia, Manbazar, Kashipur, Para and Raghunathpur voting will go on for two extra hours till 6 pm. Total number of voters in the constituencies are a little over 40 lakh (40,09,171) out of which 20,47,202 are males.
The third gender category list shows only a handful of 16 voters. There are total 4,945 polling stations out of which 1,962 have been classified as critical ones by the Election Commission.
Voter Verifiable Audit Trails (VVAT) are being done in 562 polling stations. Unlike in 2011 Assembly polls where the Trinamool Congress was its partner, the Congress this time has forged an alliance with the Left parties.
All the three - Trinamool, Left-Congress alliance and BJP - have fielded candidates from all 18 seats. Gobordhan Bagdi is the only one fighting on two seats of Para and Raghunathpur on a JMM ticket.
In all Left-wing extremism affected polling stations, the EC has decided to deploy a minimum of one section of force, which has around ten security personnel. There will be a minimum of three security layers including sector forces and a quick response team.
Central forces will be present in every polling booth and depending on the requirement the deployment of forces can increase.
For aerial surveillance, two choppers will conduct regular sorties and inform forces on the ground if they notice any undesirable activity.
First phase of Assam Assembly polls begins amid tight security
The first of the two-phase Assam Assembly election began at 7 AM today amid strict security, with 65 of the state's total 126 constituencies going to the poll in which the main contenders are the ruling Congress and the BJP-AGP-BPF alliance.
An electorate of 95,11,732, including 45,95,712 women, are able to exercise their franchise in 12,190 polling booths to decide the fate of 539 candidates. As many as 1,241 polling stations have been identified as 'critical' polling stations, 1,992 as 'hypersensitive' and 3,739 as 'sensitive'. In all 535 companies of security forces have been deployed in the 65 constituencies.
Out of them 433 companies are central forces and 102 are from the state police, Assam Chief Electoral Officer Vijayendra said yesterday. Security has been tightened across the state with the Indo-Bangla border along Barak Valley's Karimganj district being sealed.
The 65 constituencies are spread across Upper Assam, the hill districts, the northern banks and the Barak Valley. More than 48,000 polling personnel have been deployed in the first phase.
The first phase will witness mostly direct contest between the ruling Congress and the BJP-AGP-BPF alliance, though the AIUDF has put up candidates in 27 constituencies. The Congress is contesting all 65 constituencies, the BJP 54 and its alliance partners AGP in 11 and BPF in three.
The AIUDF, another important contender has put up candidates in 27 while the CPI and CPI-M in 10 each, the CPI(ML)(L) in six along with 60 others of unrecognised parties and 13 Independents.
Prominent Congress candidates in the fray include Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi from Titabor, Speaker of the outgoing Assembly Pranab Gogoi from Sibsagar and former Union minister and prominent tea tribe leader Paban Singh Ghatowar.
The BJP's star candidates in the first phase include Union minister and party's chief ministerial candidate Sarbananda Sonowal from Majuli and Jorhat Lok Sabha MP Kamakhya Prasad Tasa from Titabor. AGP's working president Atul Bora is also an important face in the fray.
While the Congress looks forward to retaining power for the fourth successive term, the BJP called for a 'parivartan' (change) to usher in development.
(With inputs from PTI/IANS)