The rebels’ threat to disrupt the elections in Assam turned out to be a hollow cry as the polls in 62 constituencies of the state saw an average turnout of 75% on Monday.
The elections to the remaining 64 seats will be held on April 11.
The anti-talks factions of the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (Ulfa) had threatened to strike during the elections.
The only incident of clash —between election agents and voters — was reported from southern Assam’s Cachar district. Polling will be again held in two booths.
“The voting percentage was an estimated 75%,” additional chief electoral officer MC Sahu told HT.
The polling percentage in the single-phase 2006 assembly elections was 72%. Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi is confident of the Congress retaining power for the third term in succession, which will be for the first time for any party since 1978.
“The results (for the Congress) will be as bright as today’s weather,” Gogoi said after casting his vote in Jorhat. He was alluding to the sunny day that followed a phase of intermittent rainfall. “We’ll get more seats than in the 2006 polls and form the government. But we’re keen on continuing the alliance with the Bodoland Peoples’ Front,” he said.
However, in at least 15 eastern Assam constituencies, rain played spoilsport until the sun appeared by mid-day.
Former Asom Gana Parishad president Brindaban Goswami and BJP state unit president Ranjit Dutta were upbeat about their respective party’s prospects. The fate of both these veterans was sealed on Monday.
“The turnout suggests people have voted for a change,” said Goswami after casting his vote at Tezpur, 175 km east of Guwahati. Dutta, seeking reelection from Behali, expressed similar views.
Phase 1 is expected to be a test for several Congress stalwarts apart from Gogoi.
They include power minister Pradyut Bordoloi (Margherita), excise minister Gautam Roy (Katlicherra), water resources minister Bharat Chandra Narah (Dhakuakhana), PWD minister Ajanta Neog (Golaghat) and labour minister Prithivi Majhi.