80% voter turnout in phase 2 of Bodo Territorial Council polls in Assam

A total of 111 candidates are in fray in the 19 constituencies in Kokrajhar and Chirang districts.
Assembly polls in Assam are due in March-April this year and BTC polls are being viewed as a semi-final contest. (HT Photo)
Assembly polls in Assam are due in March-April this year and BTC polls are being viewed as a semi-final contest. (HT Photo)
Updated on Dec 11, 2020 09:08 AM IST
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Hindustan Times, Guwahati | By

Voting for the second and final phase of election to the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) in Assam concluded on Thursday with nearly 80% polling amid reports of stray incidents of violence.

One poll official was injured in Chirang district during a clash between Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) and United Peoples’ Party Liberal (UPPL) at a polling booth in Duttapara.

Police had to fire in the air to disperse the crowd and ensure resumption of polling. While some allege that the poll official was trying to influence a voter, district officials said it was a case of misunderstanding.

“The incident happened after a visually challenged voter entered the polling station unaccompanied by anyone. When the poll official tried to help him cast his ballot, other voters standing outside assumed that he was trying to influence the voter and attacked him (the poll official),” said Gautam Talukdar, deputy commissioner, Chirang.

“Police present in the area resorted to blank fire in the air to bring the situation under control. The poll official has sustained injuries but is not critical. Chirang recorded 75% polling till 3:30 pm and the final figure is expected to cross 80%,” he added.

A total of 111 candidates are in fray in the 19 constituencies in Kokrajhar and Chirang districts. Voting had taken place in 21 constituencies in Baksa and Udalguri districts the first phase of polling held on Monday.

Voting started at 7:30 am and continued past 4:30 pm, the official time limit, as voters who arrived before that time were allowed to cast their ballot. Long queues of voters were seen lined up outside most polling stations since early morning prior to the start of voting.

“The final polling percentage in Kokrajhar would be between 75% and 80%. Polling was by and large peaceful and went smoothly. As per Covid-19 protocols, face masks and sanitisers had been given to poll personnel and also for distribution among voters, if needed,” Bhaskar Phukan, deputy commissioner of Kokrajhar, said.

Polling for the first phase on Monday had passed peacefully with over 77% voting.

This is the first election being held in Assam since Covid-19 pandemic started. The polls were scheduled to be held in April but had to be postponed because of the pandemic and all the four districts under BTC placed under Governor’s rule.

Assembly polls in Assam are due in March-April this year and BTC polls are being viewed as a semi-final contest.

Since its formation in 2003, the BTC had been governed by Hagrama Mohilary, a former rebel who now heads the Bodoland Peoples’ Front (BPF), a partner in the ruling coalition headed by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) as the third partner.

But relations between the BJP and BPF started souring after BTC was placed under Governor’s rule. Both parties are now contesting the BTC polls separately. The BPF has fielded candidates in 37 seats while the BJP is contesting 26 and supporting Independent candidates in the other seats.

Apart from the BJP and BPF, opposition Congress and All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), which have a tie-up for the assembly polls, are contesting 20 seats.

Counting of votes will take place on December 12.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Utpal is an assistant editor based in Guwahati. He covers all eight states of North-East and was previously based in Kathmandu, Dehradun and Delhi with Hindustan Times .

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