GUWAHATI: An estimated 78.45% voter turnout was recorded in Monday’s first of two-phase Assam polls, which passed off peacefully. Sixty five of the 126 constituencies went to polls in the first phase.
“When reports last came in, 78.02% voters exercised their franchise. The figure is likely to go up marginally. Sixty four EVMs malfunctioned and they had to be replaced,” election officials told Express. The overall voter turnout in the two-phase polls in 2011 was 75%.
Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi of the Congress and Union Sports Minister and BJP’s chief ministerial candidate Sarbananda Sonowal were among those who cast their vote early. Both of them were confident of the success of their parties.
“I have no doubt that the Congress will retain power. We will, perhaps, get between 65 and 70 seats,” Gogoi told reporters in Jorhat. In the 2011 elections, the Congress had bagged 79 of the 126 seats.
Asked if the high voter turnout was an indication that the people had voted for change, the Chief Minister replied, “Even I am for change. I want that the state witnesses more development and that there is creation of more employment opportunities. It is only the Congress which can achieve that goal”.
Gogoi was confident that the Congress would be able to form the government without the support of minority-based All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF). The BJP alleges that Congress has promised deputy CM post to AIUDF chief Badruddin Ajmal in the event of a Congress-AIUDF coalition government.
Gogoi’s son and Kaliabor MP, Gaurav, also played down speculations about the high voter turnout. “Change could be of two kinds. One is for development, peace and prosperity. The other is for unrest and lawlessness. I am sure people voted for the maintenance of peace and progress. Even when I contested the 2014 Lok Sabha election, my constituency recorded a high voter turnout but I had the last laugh,” he asserted.
Meanwhile, the BJP was overjoyed to see a large number of people coming out to exercise their franchise. “That the voters wanted a change was reflected in their turning out in large numbers. In fact, the youth, who are studying outside the state, had also come home to cast their votes. People’s faith in the BJP has increased our responsibility,” Sonowal told reporters in Dibrugarh.
Former powerful Congress Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, who is now with the BJP, claimed it was all over for the ruling party. “The way people have come out to vote, I am sure the Gogoi era is all over,” said Sarma, once a close associate of Gogoi.
93 EVMs malfunction, replaced in assam
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 started on Monday.
Cong committed to ‘Make in Assam’: Rahul
Campaigning for the second and last phase of elections, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi said his party was committed to ‘Make in Assam’ initiative to provide jobs to more than 10 lakh youths.
Himanta sure gogoi era is over in state
Former Congress minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, who is now with BJP, claimed it was all over for the ruling party. “The way people have come out to vote, I am sure the Gogoi era is all over,” he asserted.
Model polling booths show the way
The first phase of the Assam polls showcased model polling centres, including all women stations with facilities like rest room, wheel chair for the physically challenged and the aged besides medical teams.
The second and final phase of polling for the remaining 61 of the 126 assembly constituencies will be held on April 11, mostly in the areas of lower Assam
65 no. of constituencies that went to polls in the first phase on Monday
75% overall voting percentage in last assembly election in 2011
Blast near BJP office, 2 killed, 21 injured
Two persons were killed while 21 others were injured when suspected militants of the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) triggered a blast at Dudhnoi in western Assam on Monday. Western Assam will go to polls in the second phase on April 11. The police said the explosion occurred at around 6.20 pm near an office of the BJP. “Two persons have ben killed and 21 others injured,” said Pallab Bhattacharya, Additional Director General of Police. “They have been shifted to hospital. The condition of two of the injured persons was critical,” Goalpara Superintendent of Police Nitul Gogoi told Express.
First-timers, women flock to booths
Enthusiastic first-time voters and women were seen in large numbers since early Monday in most of the polling stations where the first phase of Assam Assembly polls took place. Buoyed by pleasant weather, young voters and women were seen queuing up before the 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. Several elderly and disabled voters were also seen at booths.