Amid heavy security measures and Covid protocols, Assam saw 64.3 per cent turnout till 3 p.m. on Saturday in the bypolls to the five Assembly seats, officials said.
The 10-hour long balloting, which so far has been peaceful, will continue till 5 p.m. The state's Chief Electoral Officer Nitin Khade, who along with other officials are monitoring the polling process through webcasting, said that there has been no untoward incidents so far. "Central Armed Police Forces have been deployed at each polling station to ensure a conducive atmosphere for the smooth conduct of elections," he said.
Deputy Commissioners and Superintendents of Police of five districts, where the bye-lections are going on, are personally monitoring the situations. An election official said that showcasing Assam's vibrant traditional culture, many of the polling stations were decorated with local produce and items.
Meanwhile, all polling personnel, agents of the candidates and political parties' representatives engaged in the election process, have been mandated to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
One health worker has been posted as Covid Nodal Officer in each of the 1,176 polling stations.
Nearly eight lakh voters, including 3,93,078 women, are eligible to decide the fate of 31 candidates in Mariani, Thowra, Bhabanipur, Gossaigaon and Tamulpur Assembly seats.
The BJP has fielded turncoat candidates in three seats -- Congress' Rupjyoti Kurmi in Mariani and Sushanta Borgohain in Thowra, and All India United Democratic Front's (AIUDF) Phanidhar Talukdar in Bhabanipur. The BJP's ally United People's Party Liberal (UPPL) has nominated Jiron Basumatary in Gossaigaon and Jolen Daimary in Tamulpur. The main opposition Congress, which fielded candidates in all five seats, has been trying hard to at least retain the Thowra and Mariani seats.
The AIUDF has fielded candidates in Bhabanipur and Gossaigaon, while the Akhil Gogoi-led Raijor Dal is contesting in Thowra and Mariani and Hagrama Mahilary-led Bodoland People's Front (BPF) is contesting in Gossaigaon.
The AIUDF and the BPF were allies of the Congress-led 10-party 'Mahajot' (grand alliance) in the Assembly polls earlier this year. The by-elections were necessitated due to the Covid-related deaths of two sitting MLAs belonging to UPPL and BPF while two Congress (Kurmi and Borgohain) and one AIUDF legislator (Talukdar) joined the BJP after quitting their Assembly membership.
The counting of votes will take place on November 2.