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Assam elections to end on Monday

The staggered assembly elections in Assam end on Monday with the second and final phase of voting.

india Updated: Apr 09, 2006 14:37 IST

The staggered assembly elections in Assam end on Monday with the second and final phase of voting.

"Everything is ready and we are confident of conducting the polls without any problems," said JP Prakash, the state's chief electoral officer.

The first of the two-stage polls to the 126-member assembly concluded April 3 with an estimated 73.2 per cent of the 9.2 million voters exercising their franchise in 65 constituencies.

A total of 515 candidates contested in the first phase. Nearly 8.2 million voters would decide the fate of 482 candidates in 61 assembly segments on Monday.

This was the first time in two decades when there was not a single militant triggered violent incident during the polls. Despite the relative calm, at least 50,000 police and paramilitary soldiers were deployed on Monday.

The campaigning for the staggered polls saw a bevy of political and religious leaders flooding the hills and valleys of Assam seeking support for their parties and candidates.

From Congress president Sonia Gandhi to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader LK Advani, former Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu and a galaxy of actors thronged Assam.

The battle for political supremacy is between the ruling Congress and the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP). The BJP and the newly floated Asom United Democratic Front (AUDF), a Muslim based party, are the other two major players.

Although the AGP and BJP are fighting separately, they have the same agenda - the issue of Bangladeshi infiltration and alleged poor governance of the Congress government in Assam.

The AUDF is trying to become the new messiah of the Muslims in Assam that account for about 30 percent of the state's 26 million people. Muslim votes are a deciding factor in at least 40 assembly seats.

Analysts predict a hung assembly with no party expected to touch the magic figure of 64 in the 126-member house.

The AGP has ruled out aligning with the BJP post-poll while the saffron party claims it will emerge the real kingmaker.

The Congress is harping on the theme of peace, development and protection to genuine Indian minorities.

Among the prominent candidates whose fate would be decided Monday include AGP leader Brindaban Goswami and AUDF chief Badruddin Ajmal.

Goswami is being projected as the AGP's chief ministerial candidate. Counting of votes takes place May 11.

First Published: Apr 09, 2006 14:37 IST