Guwahati: Assam has gone for the first phase poling of State legislative assembly elections covering 47 constituencies across 12 districts by 7 am. Long queues of voters are observed in various place since the early morning hours. Many candidates arrive in polling centres to cast their votes. The weather across eastern and northern Assam remains comfortable for the voters. Till 11 am, 25% turnout has been recorded.
In this phase, 81,09,815 general electors (out of which 40,32,481 are females and 124 are trans-genders) are going to exercise their franchise, where 264 candidates of various political parties with many independents are in the fray.
State chief electoral officer Nitin Khade informed that all steps have been taken to conduct safe, smooth and peaceful polls in 11,537 polling stations. In this phase, the highest number of voters has been recorded in Jonai (ST) assembly constituency (3,11,660) and lowest in Thowra constituency (1,15,364 electors).
The authority has deployed a large number of police and paramilitary forces to ensure a safe ambience for voters during the polling. All borders of the State are also put under close monitoring by the security personnel. The voter verifiable paper audit trails (VVPAT, where the voters can verify their votes) along with electronic voting machines (EVM) are used at every polling station.
Following the Covid-19 pandemic guidelines, the authority decided to allow maximum of 1,000 electors in a polling station instead of earlier stipulation of 1,500. The option of postal ballot facility has already been extended to the electors who are infected with the novel corona virus (or suspected positive) and in home or institutional quarantine along with those marked with disabilities, above 80 years of ages, etc.
Every polling station has been equipped with assured minimum facilities like drinking water, toilet, arrangements for lighting, waiting space, ramp of appropriate gradient for persons with disabilities. Mandatory sanitization of polling station and thermal checking of voters at the entry point are also on place.
If the temperature of a particular voter is above the set norms at first reading, she/she will be checked again and if that remains the same, the elector will be provided with a token for voting at the last hour (6 pm). Those electors will be facilitated for voting later following strict health protocols.
Electoral fate of a number of political heavyweights including State chief minister and BJP leader Sarbananda Sonowal, party legislators Prasanta Phukan, Mrinal Saikia, State Congress chief Ripun Bora, party leader Debabrat Saikia, Asom Gana Parishad president Atul Bora, party leaders Keshab Mahanta, Prithwiraj Rabha, Aaom Jatiya Parishad chief Lurinjyoti Gogoi, Raijor Dal supremo Akhil Gogoi, etc will be decided tomorrow by the voters.
Meanwhile, the election authority has notified the period between 7 am on 27 March) and 7.30 pm on 29 April within which any exit poll, publicizing its result in any form is banned not only in Assam, but also in West Bengal, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. Further displaying any election matter in any electronic media is prohibited during the period of 48 hours ending with the hour fixed for conclusion of poll in respective polling areas.