HomePoliticsLok Sabha Elections Kick Off With Polling in Assam, Tripura: Phase 1

Lok Sabha Elections Kick Off With Polling in Assam, Tripura: Phase 1

The high-stakes battle in the virtual Presidential-style contest between Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi with a few other regional satraps also in the fray in the Lok Sabha elections began on Monday in six constituencies in two states in the first of the nine-phased polls. Five constituencies in Assam — Tezpur, Kaliabor, Jorhat, Dibrugarh and Lakhimpur and a constituency in Tripura — Tripura (West) went to the polls on Monday.

The campaigning for the first phase of Lok Sabha election on April 7 ended at 5 pm on Saturday as per the election commission guidelines to end campaigning 48 hours before polling. In Assam, campaigning in the five constituencies was at its peak on Friday with heavyweight leaders across the political spectrum wooing voters across the state. Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, state Congress chief Bhubaneswar Kalita, Asom Gana Parishad chief and former Chief Minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta were among the campaigners. In Tripura, Chief Minister Manik Sarkar campaigned for Shankar Prasad Dutta, the CPI(M) candidate from Tripura West constituency.

The most surprising part of this phase is the voter turnout. Tripura recorded a turnout of 84% and Assam recorded a turnout of 75%. This is historic as it is highly unusual for the northeastern states to have a high voter turnout. Unlike in the past, neither factions of the ULFA, have issued diktats to the voters for boycott of the elections or made any statement against any political party. Around 1.2 million people were eligible to vote Monday to pick a Lok Sabha member from among 13 candidates. Almost all the candidates are first-time contenders.

75% of the 64.4 lakh voters exercised their franchise peacefully in five Lok Sabha constituencies in Assam sealing the electoral fate of 51 contestants, including two union ministers in the first phase.

Security Personnel Carrying Electronic Voting Machine to Poll Booths
Security Personnel Carrying Electronic Voting Machines to Poll Booths

Chief electoral officer Vijayendra said, “The first half of the day witnessed heavy polling, and till 5pm the turnout touched 75%.”

“There was a lot of enthusiasm among young and first-time voters,” he added

Poll officials said there were reports of clashes between Congress and Asom Gana Parishad supporters in Assam during the election campaigning, AGP workers blocked NH37 after Congress supporters allegedly assaulted six party members. Political parties were upbeat about the high turnout. The Congress said it was indicative of a clear mandate for the party while the BJP felt people came out in large numbers for a change.

BJP presence in this region of India is not significant. BJP prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi addressed five rallies in Assam, indicative of the party’s attention on a region that has been a Congress bastion. Tripura, on the other hand, has been a Left Front stronghold. An estimated 6.4 million people were eligible to vote Monday for the five seats, which have a total of 51 candidates in the fray.

Elections were held under heavy security to make sure they were held in a free and fair way. The state police department has not been given any responsibility as per the election commission guidelines. The Election Commission has arranged the Paramilitary forces and Central Armed Police Forces for security to limit the powers of political executives who have the police under their control.

[Image Attribute: TOI]
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