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Asom prepares to welcome new government

Written by: Staff
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Guwahati, May 10 (UNI) Amid indications of a hung assembly, Asom prepares for the counting of votes tomorrow.

In the absence of a strong anti-incumbency factor, the Congress leaders exude confidence of retaining power.

However, the Opposition also is forging alliances to keep the Congress away from the power seat.

If exit polls are an indicator, no party or alliance seems to emerge clear winners. All eyes would be set on the smaller parties and Independents who are likely to emerge as the kingmakers.

The Bodo faction, newly-floated Asom United Democratic Front and the Independents are seen as crucial in determining who forms the government at Dispur.

The last month saw claims and counter-claims, alliances and defections and new equations emerged as the state waited for a month for the results. With yesterday's ULFA attack on AGP candidate and former minister Pradeep Hazarika, the post-poll scenerio was likely to be altered.

Election for 126 seats in the state assembly was held in two phases on April 3 and 10. About 75 per cent of total 1,74,34,181 voters exercised their franchise in 18,718 polling stations across the state.

The fate of 997 candidates are sealed in the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), of whom 69 are women.

A total of 19,723 EVMs were used in the polls even as the machines were used throughout the state for the maiden time.

Braille-enabled EVM was also used in an experimental basis in a booth in Nagaon district.

Massive security arrangements were made for the polls with the Centre deploying 300 additional companies of para military forces in the state, taking the number to 417. Earlier polls had seen the deployment of about 50 additional companies.

With the strong security cover and the major insurgent groups not giving a boycott call, the polls were largely peaceful.

The second phase polls in the hill district of Karbi Anglong witnessed some incidents of violence, triggered by the proscribed KLNLF. The Bodo-dominated areas also reported sporadic incidents.

The last few governments had been 'welcomed' by the ULFA with a series of killings, blasts and kidnappings. Yesterday's incident has put the police on a high alert to avert repetition of the earlier situation.

Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, AGP chief ministerial candidate Brindabon Goswami, BJP leader and former Union minister Bijoya Chakrabarty, state Congress chief Bhubaneshwar Kalita and former chief minister Prafula Kumar Mahanta are among the important leaders who were in the fray.

With the EC making the production of identification documents mandatory for all voters, the illegal voters were believed to have been dissuaded from coming to vote.

Ban on graffiti and sticking of posters did not deter the political parties from making all-out attempts to attract the voters.

Parties brought in film stars and leaders from other states to woo the voters even as the focus of the parties was on insurgency, employment and economic development of the state.

In the out-going assembly, the ruling Congress had 70 MLAs, AGP 20, BJP 8, NCP 3, AITC 1, ASDC(U) 2, SAP and SP one each, while 19 MLAs has contested as Independents.

UNI SG-MT RP HT1617

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