Voting for first phase of Bodoland Territorial Council election begins
Polling for the first phase of Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) election began on Monday morning with heavy security measures and Covid-19 protocols in place.
Over 13.59 lakh voters will decide the fate of 130 candidates in 21 constituencies in Udalguri and Baksa districts in the first phase. Voting for the other 19 constituencies in Kokrajhar and Chirang districts will take place on Thursday.
Polling started at 7:30 am and will continue till 4:30 pm in 1739 polling stations. As per initial reports, voting is underway smoothly.
“There are 10 constituencies in our district. All security arrangements are in place and polling parties have been given face masks, sanitisers for themselves and also to give to those voters who come without masks. Social distancing will also be maintained during voting,” Prakash Ranjan Gharphalia, deputy commissioner of Udalguri said.
This is the first election being held in Assam amid the raging Covid-19 pandemic. 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 were placed under the Governor’s rule.
The BTC polls are being seen as a crucial contest before the state Assembly polls in Assam due in March-April next year.
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 BJP and BPF started souring after the BTC was placed under the 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.
The other prime contenders are United Peoples’ Party Liberal (UPPL), which is contesting all 40 seats, and Gana Surakha Party (GSP) of Kokrajhar MP Nava Sarania, which is fighting in 35 seats.
Counting of votes will take place on December 12.