Assam polls: 75 percent turnout in first phase

Guwahati: An estimated 75 percent voters on Monday exercised their franchise in the first phase of the Assam assembly election covering 62 of the 126 constituencies, which was by and large peaceful.

"The figure is likely to cross 75 per cent as reports from remote areas are still coming in", Additional Chief Electoral Officer MC Sahu said to a news agency here.

Deputy Election Commissioner Alok Shukla told reporters in New Delhi that polling was "very, very peaceful today. No major incident of violence has taken place".

Today`s poll in Assam marked the start of the democratic exercise that will also cover Tamil Nadu, Kerala, West Bengal and Puducherry in April and May. While Assam will have two-phased poll, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry in one phase and West Bengal in six phases ending on May 10. The vote count is scheduled for May 13.

Polling was brisk and peaceful and by late afternoon the turnout figure was about 65 percent which is likely to increase and touch 75 percent, he said.

Polling personnel are yet to return from remote booths and then only the exact figure could be ascertained, he said.

Sahu said the election was by and large peaceful and there was one incident of clash between the polling agent of a political party and voters in a polling both in Karimganj constituency where polling was stopped for sometime.

"The matter has been reported to the Election Commission which will take a final decision and let us know", he said.

There are 85,09,011 voters in the first phase of polling while the second phase of election for the rest 64 constituencies will be held on April 11.

A report from Jeraigaon said the mother of absconding top ULFA leader Paresh Baruah, who is opposed to peace talks with the government, cast her vote in Assam`s Dibrugarh district today saying she had always reposed faith in democracy.

Her youngest son Bikul Baruah, a school teacher, with whom she lived, was on election duty as a polling officer. Her two older sons Bimal Baruah, an employee at the Army`s supply depot at Panitola, and Pradip Baruah, also an armyman, voted along with five family members.

A report from Sibsagar/Dibrugarh said overground cadres of ULFA will not exercise their franchise in Assam assembly polls though arrangements for postal ballots for them has been made by the Election Commission.

ULFA Vice-chairman Pradip Gogoi said to a news agency that the outfit had already announced that it would boycott the polls but not disturb the poll process.

Shulka said there were a couple of minor incidents like a clash between supporters of two parties assaulted a polling personnel by some voters at a polling station where polling was interrupted.

In a polling station, the polling official did not press the button in the EVM leading to some discrepancy in the voting and polling was boycotted in some polling booths on developmental issues, Shukla said.

A decision on repolling in some of the polling stations after getting reports from the polling parties, he said.