15% turnout in 2nd phase Assam Assembly polls (Ld)

Around 15 per cent voters have cast their ballots during the first three hours in the second phase of the Assam Assembly polls on Thursday, conducted in 39 constituencies amid tight security, election officials said.

Men, women and first time voters in large numbers queued up in front of the polling stations well before the voting started at 7 a.m. in 13 districts.

Polling will continue till 6 p.m as the Election Commission extended the time by an hour in view of the Covid-19 induced situations.

Assam Chief Electoral Officer Nitin Khade said that 73,44,631 voters, including 36,09,959 women, are eligible to cast their votes across 10,592 polling stations.

There are a total of 556 women manned polling stations.

Around 31,000 Central Armed Police Force personnel, along with thousands of state security force personnel, have been deployed to maintain law and order during this phase in which 42,368 polling personnel are engaged.

In Thursday’s balloting, the electoral fate of 345 candidates, including 26 women aspirants, will be decided.

In the second phase, the fate of several ministers including Fisheries, Excise, Environment and Forest Minister Parimal Suklabaidya, Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Piyush Hazarika, state Irrigation Minister Bhabesh Kalita and Deputy Speaker Aminul Haque Laskar will be decided.

Suklabaidya is contesting from the Dholai seat for the seventh time on a BJP ticket, Hazarika from Jagiroad and Kalita from Rangia.

Former Congress Minister Gautam Roy is contesting from Katigorah on a BJP ticket, while former Deputy Speaker Dilip Kumar Paul, who resigned from the party after he was denied ticket and was subsequently expelled, is contesting as an Independent from the Silchar constituency.

Covid-19 protocols for the voters including social distancing and thermal screening are being maintained.

Of the three-phased 126-member Assam assembly election, the third and final phase would be held in 40 seats on April 6.

Results will be declared on May 2.

Nearly 80 per cent of 8,109,815 voters cast their votes on March 27 in the first phase conducted in 47 constituencies.