Assam first phase polls to decide fate of 539 candidates (Curtain Raiser)

Guwahati, April 3 (IANS) Assam will hold the first phase of assembly polls on Monday for 65 constituencies to decide the fate of 539 candidates. Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi is seeking a mandate for the fifth term in Titabar constituency.

A total of 96,11,732 people are eligible to vote in the elections across 12,190 polling stations in the 65 constituencies.

The constituencies mainly include those in Upper Assam, north bank of Brahmaputra river and in Barak Valley of Assam.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has pitted Lok Sabha MP and tea tribe leader Kamakhya Prasad Tasha against the Gogoi.

Similarly, BJP’s chief ministerial candidate Sarbananda Sonowal will seek a mandate from Majuli constituency in Assam. The Congress has fielded sitting legislator from the Rajib Lochan Pegu constituency.

According to the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) office in Assam, all necessary arrangements have been made in the polling stations to ensure smooth conduct of the polls.

Of the 12,190 polling stations, 7,629 have been identified as sensitive, 3,663 are identified as hyper sensitive and 1,910 are marked as critical.

In the first phase, the state’s ruling Congress party will contest in all the 65 constituencies while the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has put up candidates in 54 constituencies.

The All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), led by perfume baron Moulana Badruddin Ajmal, is contesting in 27 seats while the regional party Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) is contesting in only 11 seats.

There are 280 Independent candidates in the electoral fray for the first phase of polls followed by 65 others, representing some lesser known or unregistered parties.

While most of the constituencies will see straight electoral battles between the ruling Congress in Assam and candidates put up by the BJP, AGP and Bodoland Peoples’ Front (BPF) alliance in Upper Assam and in north bank of river Brahmaputra, the constituencies in Barak Valleys are likely to see a three-cornered fight between the Congress, the BJP-led alliance and AIUDF.

“We are hopeful for a peaceful and incident-free poll tomorrow (Monday). The presiding officers and other poll officials, accompanied by security personnel, have started moving towards their respective polling centres,” Assam’s Additional Chief Electoral Officer Nitin Khade told IANS on Sunday.

“Security arrangements have been done as per the necessity. In every polling station, there will be at least three armed police and two unarmed constables. More security personnel will be deployed in sensitive and critical polling stations as per the necessity,” he said.

Other prominent faces in the state who would seek mandate in the first phase include Public Works Department minister Ajanta Neog (Congress), Agriculture Minister Rockybul Hussain (Congress), Cultural Minister Bismita Gogoi (Khumtai), former union minister Paban Singh Ghatowar (Cong), former two-time Assam chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta (AGP), former education minister Brindaban Goswami (AGP) and Atul Bora (AGP president).

The second phase of polls for 61 seats of the 126-member assembly will be held on April 11.

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