Assam sees peaceful polling in phase two

SILCHAR/MORIGAON: The situation in Assam was peaceful with a significant number of voters turning up during the morning hours to exercise their franchise in the 39 seats where voting was underway in the second phase on Thursday.

There were reports of EVM glitches from some polling stations and upon their immediate replacement voting continued uninterrupted, an election official said.

Long queues were seen outside most of the 10,592 polling stations across the 13 districts in the Barak Valley, the Hill region and parts of Central and Lower Assam since early morning.

A significant number of women voters were seen turning up early for exercising their franchise.

At most places, voters were found wearing masks and maintaining social distance as they stood inside the rings drawn at six feet distance outside the polling stations.

Besides, they were examined with thermal scanners for body temperature, provided with sanitisers and disposable plastic gloves before they went into the polling booth to cast their vote.

E-rickshaw was made available to ferry senior citizens in the Cachar district, and they were also felicitated for their will to vote.

Wheelchairs were also provided at all the election centres with volunteers navigating the old and disabled to their polling booths.

Resting areas were also created for the senior citizens to wait for their turn to vote.

Voting began at 7 am and will continue till 6 pm with the extra hour given in view of the pandemic.

Till 11 am, 27.45 per cent of the total 73,44,631 voters exercised their franchise.

Among the prominent candidates who have voted are Karimganj (North) MLA Kamalakhya Dey Purakayastha of Congress and his BJP opponent Manash Das, BJP’s Nalbari candidate Jayanta Malla Baruah, UPPL’s Gobinda Chandra Basumatary, and former Asam Sahitya Sabha president and BJP candidate from Sipajhar Paramanda Rajbongshi.

Senior Congress leader Sushmita Dev also exercised her franchise at a polling booth in Silchar and asserted that her party will win the elections.

Several polling stations in Cachar were decked up, showcasing the cultural legacy of the district through the display of handicrafts and handlooms.

In many of the 117 model polling stations, the first voters were greeted with traditional Assamese scarf ‘gamosa’ as well as with saplings.

Thunderstorms accompanied by lightning, rain, hailstones and gusty winds reaching up to 30-40 kmph hit the Karimganj district in the morning, but the weather cleared later in the day, enabling voters to step out.

Overnight showers also lashed several constituencies where polling is underway.

Rains and thunderstorms are common ahead of the Rongali Bihu festival, which is a fortnight away.

Selfie stands with “I voted” written on them and wallpaper stands seeking comments were seen to be a favourite among voters, particularly the first-timers and the youths.

The total electorate include 37,34,537 males and 36,09,959 females.

Elections to the 126-member assembly are being held in three phases with 79.97 per cent of the electorate exercising their franchise in 47 constituencies in the first phase on March 27.

The third and final phase elections for 40 seats will be held on April 6.

The votes will be counted on May 2.