Debating India


68 per cent polling recorded in Assam

Tuesday 4 April 2006

Special Correspondent

65 of 126 constituencies covered in the first phase; rain affects voting in Guwahati

Guwahati: An estimated 68 per cent of the 92 lakh electorate exercised their franchise in the first phase of the Assembly elections in Assam on Monday. Polling took place in 65 of the 126 constituencies. Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and 514 other candidates are in the fray.

Polling peaceful

Chief Electoral Officer J.P. Prakash told The Hindu here that the polling passed off peacefully. Repolling might be ordered in one or two booths, where polling could not be held due to malfunctioning of the electronic voting machines.

In Dibrugarh district, miscreants entered a polling station in the Chabua constituency and destroyed an EVM.

A dampener

Polling, which began on a moderate rate, slowed down due to rain but picked up in the afternoon after the sun reappeared.

The four constituencies in Guwahati witnessed a low turnout, with Dispur recording 45 per cent, Guwahati East 44 per cent, Guwahati West 42 per cent and Jalukbari 48.5 per cent till 5 p.m. It was raining in the city during the poll hours.

Final figures awaited

Brisk polling was reported from Jonai (72 per cent), Dhemaji and Sadiya (70 each), while the river island recorded 69 per cent. Final figures were awaited from many polling stations.

Heavy security

There was heavy security in and around the booths, with the Election Commission deploying 300 companies of paramilitary forces.

Mr. Gogoi is seeking re-election from Titabor. The other prominent candidates are the former Union Ministers, Bijoya Chakrabarty (Bharatiya Janata Party) in Dispur and Birendra Prasad Baishya (Asom Gana Parishad) in Guwahati East, Pradesh Congress Committee president and former Industry Minister Bhubaneswar Kalita in Rangiya, Cabinet Ministers Anjan Dutta, Bharat Narah and Hemoprova Saikia, Minister of State Himanta Biswa Sarma, Assam United Democratic Front (AUDF) president and businessman-turned-politician Maulana Badaruddin Ajmal.

"Code violation"

New Delhi Special Correspondent reports:

In New Delhi, Deputy Election Commissioner R. Bhattacharya told reporters that the Commission was looking into the BJP’s complaint that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had violated the model code of conduct by announcing a Rs. 602-crore package for Assam.

CPI (M) complaint in West Bengal

As for West Bengal elections, R. Balakrishnan, another Deputy Commissioner, said all issues raised by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) in its petition were answered. The petition related to deletion of names from the voters’ list; complaints against a few observers; deployment of forces and powers of the Commission for cancellation of the poll on the counting day.

The Commission was acting according to guidelines and all these issues would be sorted out, Mr. Balakrishnan said.

To a question on filing a special leave petition in the Supreme Court against a judgment of the Madras High Court on the transfer of Chennai Police Commissioner R. Nataraj, Deputy Commissioner Anand Kumar said the verdict was being examined. A decision on filing an appeal would be taken in two days.

See online : The Hindu

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