Guwahati, April 9 (IANS) Voting in the Assam assembly by-election in Dhemaji constituency passed off peacefully on Sunday, with 66.97 per cent of the total 2,19,751 voters casting their votes, an election official said.
“The overall voter turnout for the by-election in the Dhemaji assembly constituency was 66.97 per cent,” Dhemaji Returning Officer Roshni Aparanji Korati told IANS over the phone.
The by-election was necessitated as Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lawmaker Pradan Baruah contested and won the byelection to the Lok Sabha from the Lakhimpur constituency. Sarbananda Sonowal vacated the seat after winning from the Majuli assembly constituency on becoming the Chief Minister.
Sonowal was sworn in as first BJP Chief Minister of Assam on May 24.
Korati said polling started at 7 a.m. and ended at 4.00 p.m. No untoward incident was reported, barring a technical glitch on one Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT), which was immediately replaced.
She said the VVPAT machines were used in polls for the first time in the state.
Adequate security forces were deployed to ensure free and fair poll, Korati said, adding 20 polling stations were marked as “very sensitive” and 141 others as “sensitive”.
Men and women in large numbers queued up at the 273 polling stations well before voting began at 7.00 a.m. despite a spell of heavy rain, Korati said.
Five candidates are in the fray but the main contest is likely to take place between ruling BJP candidate Ranoj Pegu and Congress nominee Babul Sonowal.
The other three candidates are Communist Party of India-Marxist’s Jadu Hazarika, Socialist Unity Centre of India-Communist’s Hem Kanta Miri and Independent Rajkumar Doley.
In the 126-member Assam assembly, the BJP has 60 members, the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) 14 and the Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) 12.
The opposition Congress has 26 members, All India United Democratic Front 13 and one Independent.
The counting of votes will be held on April 13.