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Polling begins in the state

Written by: Staff
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Guwahati, Apr 3: The first phase of polling in 65 constituencies of Asom began amid unprecedented security arrangements in all the 9,723 polling stations.

However, possibilities of rain effecting the polling process loomed large.

As many as 92,07,504 voters would exercise their franchise and decide the fate of 515 candidates.

EVMs are been used for the first time in all the constituencies in an Assembly election in the state.

Voting started at 0700 hrs but overnight heavy rain and overcast sky have kept most people indoors so far and voting is expected to pick up after noon.

Of the 65 Assembly seats, 34 are in upper Assam, 15 in the Barak Valley, 10 in Kamrup district, 3 each in Morigaon district and Hojai subdivision of Nagaon.

Security arrangements have been tightened in all the constituencies, which have gone to polls.

With the militant groups staying away from the poll process, the polling is expected to be peaceful.

The poll managers of the various political parties were keeping their fingers crossed as heavy rains lashed the city last night, coupled with stormy winds. The local weather office in its forecast yesterday predicted rains today and it rained heavily last night. The weather is still cloudy and more rains cannot be ruled out.

Poll managers fear it might affect the voter turnout and taking the elector to the polling booth would be high on their agenda, members of different parties said here.

The insurgent group United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) has called upon the people to vote for candidates supporting sovereignty for Asom, an issue on which it is engaged in talks with the Centre.

Unprecedented security measures have been taken to ensure a free and fair poll. As many as 300 additional companies of central forces are deployed at polling stations, besides battalions of Assam police personnel.

The campaign for the first phase remained low key, but it saw political stalwarts at the national level garnering support for their candidates. Prominent among them were Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who concluded his two-day campaign tour yesterday, Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha L K Advani, Pramod Mahajan, Sushma Swaraj and actor-turned politicians Hema Malini and Jaya Prada. It also saw some non-state actors as Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh and Telugu Desam Chief Chandrababu Naidu campaigning for the Asom Gana Parishad.

In the Guwahati city there are 37 candidates in the fray, 12 each in Dispur and Guwahati East, while , Guwahati West has six candidates and Jalukbari has seven.

For the first time in the state, Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) would be used in all polling stations.

Sources said here among the polling booths 15 have been identified as sensitive and eight have been identified as hyper sensitive. Area wise Sadiya is the largest constituency, while Dispur has the highest number of 29,4072 voters.

UNI

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