The voter turnout on 4 April for the first phase of the Assam polls, for 65 seats, was an impressive 78.45 per cent. These polls will decide the fate of Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi of Congress and Sarbananda Sonowal, BJPs chief ministerial candidate.
In a statement, the election department said the polls had registered a "record turnout". The statement read:
"As per reports received till 5 pm, 78.45 per cent of voting had taken place. However, as a large number of voters were standing in queue at 5 pm, the final polling percentage is likely to by over 80 per cent".
"The polling took place in a peaceful manner and without any untoward incident. So far no report has been received over requirement of a re-poll".
During the polling, the authorities replaced 117 Electronic Voting Machines without interruptions, it added. Amid tight security, people exercised their franchise in 12,191 polling stations of 65 constituencies spread across Upper Assam, two hill districts, northern bank of Brahmaputra Valley and Barak Valley.
The prominent Congress contestants in this phase are Tarun Gogoi, Assembly Speaker Pranab Gogoi, former Union Minister Paban Singh Ghatowar, Assam Ministers Gautam Roy, Sarat Barkotoky, Ajanta Neog, Khorsingh Engti, Siddeque Ahmed, Bismita Gogoi, Sumitra Patir and Girindra Malik among others.
Besides Sonowal, BJPs star candidates are Lok Sabha member Kamakhya Prasad Tasa, who has been pitched against Assam Chief Minister, MLAs Prashanta Phukan, Dilip Paul, Hiten Goswami, Padma Hazarika and Naba Doley along with former ULFA extremist Kushal Duwari.
Besides its working president Atul Bora, AGPs noted nominees are sitting MLAs Keshab Mahanta and Utpal Dutta along with their former minister Pradip Hazarika.
With over 48,000 persons manning the polling booths, intense security measures were in place in the state and the Indo-Bangla border along Barak Valleys Karimganj district sealed.
Altogether 535 companies of central security forces and state police were on duty in the 65 constituencies.
The remaining 61 seats in middle and lower Assam will go to the hustings in the second and final phase of polling on 11 April