Assam, Tripura kick off polls

 08 Apr 2014 - 0:44

An elderly voter, seen sitting on her son’s bicycle, shows her inked-marked finger as others wait in line to vote outside a polling station in Koliabor, in Assam’s Nagaon district, yesterday.

Guwahati/Agartala/New Delhi: India went to the polls yesterday, with nearly six million people casting their vote in five constituencies in Assam and one of two seats in Tripura. 
The chief ministers of both the northeastern states dismissed any “Modi wave” and expressed happiness at the high voter turnout of at least 74 percent in Assam and as high as 84 percent in Tripura.
The nine-phase Lok Sabha election, the world’s largest democratic exercise involving 814 million eligible voters spread across 28 states and seven union territories, ends on May 12. The results will be out May 16.
The Election Commission in New Delhi said the voter turnout in Assam — 72.5 percent till 5pm and was expected to go up as “people were still in queue to vote” — might cross 75 percent while, in Tripura, it was 84 percent till 5pm.
Assam’s chief electoral officer Vijayendra later said 74.19 percent turnout had been recorded till 6.30pm, while officials said it would go up as reports were still being collected from various polling stations. Kaliabor Lok Sabha constituency saw the highest turnout — 75.94 percent, followed by Jorhat with 75.68 percent. Tezpur Lok Sabha constituency registered 74 percent, Lakhimpur 72.76 percent and Dibrugarh 72.56 percent polling.
Brisk polling was seen in five of the 14 Lok Sabha constituencies in Congress-ruled Assam and one of the two in Marxist-ruled Tripura. Voting for only these six seats, out of a total 543 in the country, was held. An estimated 6.4 million people were eligible to vote for the five seats in Assam.  
In Assam, polling was peaceful. As balloting began at 7am, people queued up at polling stations in Tezpur, Jorhat, Kaliabor, Dibrugarh and Lakhimpur. Polling was briefly delayed in a few of the 8,588 booths due to technical snags in the electronic voting machines (EVMs).
The political fate of 51 candidates were sealed in the EVMs in Assam’s first phase of polling. Three constituencies will go to the polls on April 12 and the remaining six on April 24.
Prominent candidates whose electoral fate was sealed include the chief minister’s son Gourav Gogoi, outgoing Congress MP Bijoy Krishna Handique, BJP state president Sarbananda Sonowal, and union ministers Ranee Narah and Paban Singh Ghatowar.
In Tripura, over 80 percent of the 1.2 million electorate cast their votes till 5pm in Tripura West constituency, as polling was held for one of the two seats in the Left-ruled state, an official said. “Long queues of people were seen in most of the 1,605 polling stations. Clear sky with excellent weather encouraged voters to come to the polling booths early,” Tripura Chief Electoral Officer Ashutosh Jindal said.
In Agartala, Chief Minister Manik Sarkar questioned a wave in favour of BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi. “Where is the Modi wave? There is no Modi wave not only in Tripura but also in the entire country. The corporate media has created this so-called wave,” Sarkar said. Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi spoke on similar lines in Jorhat after casting his vote: “Modi magic will not work here. It is Tarun Gogoi’s magic that will work here.”