Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, Speaker Tanka Bahadur Rai, Deputy Speaker Ms Pranati Phukon, state Bharatiya Janata Party president Ranjit Dutta and former president of regional Asom Gana Parishad are among the total 485 candidates whose fate were sealed in the electoral voting machine on Monday in the first phase of Assembly election held in 62 legislative assembly constituencies .
The polling registered over 75 per cent turn-out till the report last came in. The polling was peaceful, and an overall smooth affair, barring a few incidents of brief malfunctioning of the EVMs that delayed start of polling in few poling booths.
The EVMs problems mostly pertained to low battery and polling started after the batteries were replaced, sources from the Electoral Commission said.
Polling was held in 11,264 polling stations in 7,743 locations. Of these, 1,350 were covered by video or still photo surveillance. As many as 2,093 polling stations were identified as hyper-sensitive and 2,985 as sensitive. Another 817 hamlets have been identified as vulnerable.
As many as 1,516 micro-observers were appointed for the first phase, along with 25 general observers and 21 expenditure observers. The total electorate size for the first phase was 85,09,010, comprising 43,91,889 male and 41,17,121 female.
Out of these 62 LACs, 38 are now under the grip of Congress, nine with the BJP, seven with the Asom Gana Parishad, and three with All India United Democratic Front.
Fifteen of the LACs are in minority dominated Barak Valley districts of Cachar, Karimganj and Hailakandi while over 25 are located in Upper Assam's tea belt where tea workers play a crucial role in deciding the fate of poll candidates. This phase of polling will be vital for the ruling Congress given that of the 55 seats it had won in 2006 polls, 38 are going to polls on Tuesday.
"We are confident of securing absolute majority and forming the government on our own. Of course, we will continue our friendly ties with Bodoland Peoples Front even in such a scenario," Gogoi said, after casting his vote at his home town Jorhat.
Gogoi is seeking re-election from Titabor constituency in Jorhat district, while Ranjit Dutta is in the fray to retain his seat at Behali constituency in Sonitpur district. Brindabon Goswami, an AGP stalwart, is facing challenge from Congress in his bid to retain the prestigious Tezpur constituency.
Out of the total 485 candidates in the fray for the first phase election, 447 are male and only 38 are females. Maximum numbers of 25 candidates are in the poll race at South Karimganj constituency while the least number of three candidates are I the fray at Baithalangshu constituency in Karbi Anglong hill district.
In the absence of voter photo identity card, a set of 22 alternate documents, including caste certificates and certificates by gaon-burahs (village headmen), are permissible as identification documents.
Polling was boycotted in 10 polling stations under Haflong police station with the Indigenous People Forum, an umbrella organisation of Hmar, Kuki and Zeme Naga tribes, demanding bifurcation of the North Cachar Hills district into two autonomous hills districts.
Nearly 35,000 central paramilitary forces were deployed for the elections. The second and concluding phase of elections will be held on April 11 in the remaining 64 constituencies.