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Lok Sabha Polls: Over 72 Pc Voting In 5 Seats In Assam

Voters Were Also Seen Queuing Up Since Early Morning Before The 752 Polling Stations

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GUWAHATI, April 19: More than 72 per cent of 86.48 lakh electors cast their votes on Friday during the first phase of polling across five Lok Sabha constituencies in Assam.

According to Election Commission data, around 72.1 per cent of 86,47,869 electors, including 42,82,887 men, 43,64,859 women and 123 third gender, exercised their franchise to decide the fate of 35 candidates in Dibrugarh, Jorhat, Lakhimpur, Sonitpur and Kaziranga seats.

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“This is the tentative voting percentage at 5 pm. It will increase further as people are still in queues at the polling booths. All those coming to the booths before 5 pm will be allowed to cast their votes,” chief electoral officer Anurag Goel told PTI.

While voting was on, a heavy spell of rain lashed entire Upper Assam, forcing people to stay indoors for some time, and they came to cast their votes after the downpour, he added.

Jorhat recorded the highest turnout of 77.45 per cent, followed by Kaziranga (71.57), Sonitpur (71.34), Dibrugarh (71.05) and Lakhimpur (68.85), as per ECI data.

Goel said that there were reports of malfunctioning of EVMs from some booths and those machines were replaced.

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“As per the reports, around 5.5 per cent of VVPATS were replaced, while 3.3 per cent of control units and 1.6 per cent of ballot units were changed till 5 pm. These figures may go up slightly if more machines are replaced after 5 pm,” he added.

The total number of polling stations in the first phase was 10,001, of which webcasting was done in 5,509 booths.

Asked if any repoll will take place in any booth, the CEO said, “It will be decided by the presiding officers and observers tomorrow. It was a peaceful voting across the constituencies.”

An SUV carrying an EVM partially sank into Deopani River after water level rose suddenly, washing away a mechanised boat that was ferrying the vehicle in Lakhimpur constituency to replace a machine after a technical glitch was detected in it.

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The driver and the polling officer, a part of the quick response team stationed at Sadiya, managed to get out of the vehicle before water gushed into the SUV.

Brisk polling was reported since the beginning of voting at 7 am with women and first-time voters flocking the booths even before polling began.

“I reached the voting centre at 6 am. I didn’t want to miss the election,” 20-year-old Akhtara Begum, who voted for the first time, said while standing in the queue at a voting centre in Jorhat constituency.

In the 92 model polling stations, there was a festive atmosphere as those were decorated with balloons and flowers and the voters were welcomed by volunteers wearing traditional dresses.

Voters were also seen queuing up since early morning before the 752 polling stations with all-women personnel.

A special feature in this election was 11 polling booths which were completely managed by people with disabilities (PwD).

Many volunteers were seen escorting the elderly and PwDs in their wheelchairs in several booths.

Lankeswar Barua, a 100-year-old voter, decided not to opt for the home voting facility and came along with his wife in the morning at a booth in Naharkatia of Dibrugarh constituency.

“Who said I am old? I can come myself and vote. I have never voted from home, why should I when I can walk around?” he told reporters with a laughter when asked why he did not choose the home voting option.

Prominent candidates include Union minister and BJP nominee Sarbananda Sonowal, who is contesting from Dibrugarh against the Opposition nominee Lurinjyoti Gogoi, and Lok Sabha Deputy Leader of Congress Gaurav Gogoi, who is contesting from Jorhat against BJP’s sitting MP Topon Kumar Gogoi.

Some other important candidates from the BJP are Lakhimpur sitting MP Pradan Baruah, Rajya Sabha MP Kamakhya Prasad Tasa (Kaziranga) and sitting MLA Ranjit Dutta (Sonitpur).

Roseline Tirkey from Kaziranga, Premlal Ganju from Sonitpur and Uday Shankar Hazarika from Lakhimpur are trying their luck on Congress tickets.

Most of the candidates exercised their franchise within the first two hours of polling.

“My heartfelt thanks to every voter of Dibrugarh Lok Sabha Constituency. I extend my gratitude to each and every hardworking karyakarta of @BJP4India and our allies who toiled day and night during the campaign period.

“The immense support, love & affection that I have witnessed in this period has reaffirmed that Hon’ble PM Shri @narendramodi ji is returning with a massive mandate to carry forward the journey of Viksit Bharat,” Sonowal said in a post on X.

Thanking everyone coming to exercise their franchise, Gaurav Gogoi said people voted to “save Indian democracy and culture”.

Assam Jatiya Parishad’s Lurinjyoti Gogoi said, “Through voting, a message was sent by everyone that this election is to save democracy and Constitution. Injustices that are being done, the betrayal that was done to all, this election is a reply to it.”

AIUDF’s nominee for Dhubri, which will go to polling in third phase, and sitting MP Badruddin Ajmal voted in Hojai of Kaziranga constituency.

“The message that should go today is that rather than sending men to space what is more important is peace, controlling price rise and harmony among the people. Voting is not a joke, it will set the country’s fate for next five years,” he told reporters.

Kaziranga has the highest number of 11 candidates, followed by nine in Lakhimpur, eight in Sonitpur, four in Jorhat and three in Dibrugarh. (PTI)

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