BeyondHeadlines Special Correspondent
Guwahati, Assam: An estimated 70.35 percent voters used their franchise today ended in Assam’s second and final phase of elections in 64 of 126 assembly seats amid sporadic incidents of violence, Election Commission said.
The polling percentage was expected to go up as voters who already entered the booths were allowed to exercise their franchise even after the end of polling at 3 p.m., the Election Commission sources said.
Polling was disrupted for a brief period at a booth (55) in Katirihara under Jaleswar constituency with the police firing in the air to disperse a group of people who resorted to violence when the presiding officer asked them to produce identity cards, the sources said.
At the end of the exercise, both the ruling Congress party and the opposition both exuded confidence of forming the next government.
“The final polling percentage could be high as we are still compiling figures from remote areas. In about 15 percent of polling stations voting went on well past 3 p.m. as the voters had lined up before the closure time,” the official said.
Polling was cancelled in four polling stations under Rangiya assembly constituency in Kamrup (Rural) district after police fired two rounds in the air to disperse agitated voters protesting against alleged high-handedness of security forces.
Incidents of violence, including clashes between rival political parties, were reported from Mazbat, Jagiroad, Sipajhar and Samaguri.
Fourteen NDFB (pro-talk) cadres from a designated camp in Baksa district cast their votes through postal ballots.
Among the prominent candidates in the fray were former chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, Revenue Minister Bhumidhar Barman, Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarmah, Forest and Tourism Minister Rockybul Hussain, Transport Minister Chandan Brahma, Agriculture Minister Pramila Rani Brahma and AGP president Chandramohan Patowary.
“We are confident of coming back to power for the third straight term as people voted us for good governance, stability and peace,” Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said.
The opposition too was optimistic.
“We are confident of winning the polls,” said Chandra Mohan Patowary, president of Assam’s main opposition Asom Gana Parishad (AGP).
Repolling was ordered in five polling stations. A total of 496 candidates were in the fray today.
The first phase of polling April 11 involved 485 candidates and it saw an estimated 73 percent polling — for 62 assembly seats.
The Assam result will be declared on May 13 along with the states of Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Kerala and Puducherry.
The month-long electioneering was marked by a bitter slanging match between the Congress and the opposition.
Although no one has emerged as frontrunner, the Congress is seen to be having an edge because of disunity in opposition ranks.
The AGP, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Asom United Democratic Front (AUDF) fought the polls on their own, without any pre-poll alliance.
The Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) with 11 legislators in the outgoing assembly has a formal pre-poll alliance with the Congress.
‘We would get the numbers and if required we can take the help of others. But such a situation would not arise,’ the chief minister said.
In the numbers game, the AGP and the BJP could team up but the AUDF would not support any combination if BJP was part of it.
AUDF President Badruddin Ajmal said: “The AUDF will be the kingmaker after the results are known.”
Polling was held in Dhubri, Kokrajhar, Bongaigaon, Goalpara, Barpeta, Kamrup (Metro), Kamrup (Rural), Nalbari, Baksa, Chirang, Udalguri, Darrang, Morigaon and Nagaon Districts
Peaceful polling for 62 assembly seats was held in the first phase on April 4 which recorded a high voter turnout of nearly 74 per cent.