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ASSAM 2006

Second, final phase of polling in Assam today; 61 seats at stake

Monday 10 April 2006, by TALUKDAR*Sushanta

Over 82 lakh voters will decide the fate of 482 candidates

EVM with Braille signage feature provided at Barhampur BJP has highest number of candidates in second phase

Guwahati: About 82.77 lakh voters will decide the fate of 482 candidates on Monday when the second and final phase of polling for 61 Assembly constituencies will be held in Assam. Polling will take place from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The counting of votes for both the phases will be taken up on May 11.

For the first time in Barhampur Assembly constituency from where former Chief Minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta is seeking re-election, Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) with Braille signage feature have been provided on a pilot basis to facilitate visually challenged people cast votes without the assistance of a companion.

Polling parties for each of the 8,995 polling stations had already left in the morning.

Chief Election Commissioner B.B. Tandon, while appealing to the voters to come out in large numbers and exercise their "valuable rights," said all necessary arrangements, including deployment of 42,000 security personnel, have been made.

Mr. Tandon said that to ensure that people were not deprived of their right to vote, the identity of each elector would be checked strictly. He appealed to allparties and the candidates to maintain high democratic standards and cooperate for a peaceful, free and fair poll.

Of the 61 constituencies going to polls, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is contesting in 60, Congress in 56, the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) in 46, Assam United Democratic Front (AUDF) in 37, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) in 22, CPI(M) in 7, CPI in 2, and the AGP (Progressive) in 42.

Prominent candidates in this phase include AGP president and Chief Ministerial candidate Brindaban Goswami, former Chief Minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, AUDF president Badaruddin Ajmal, and State CPI(M) secretary Uddhab Barman.

Bilasipara West and Bhabanipur have the highest number of 14 candidates while Chapaguri that is witnessing a straight contest has only two candidates.

Security has been strengthened in Bodo-dominated constituencies where a keen contest is on the cards between two factions of the Bodoland People’s Progressive Front - one led by rebel leader-turned-chief executive member of the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) Hagrma Mahillary and another led by former president of All Bodo Students Union Rabiram Narzary.

A review of the Bodo-dominated areas of Dhubri, Goalpara, Bongaigaon, Kokrajhar, Chirang and Udalguri districts was done by Chief Electoral Officer J.P. Prakash.

See online : The Hindu

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