Odishatv Bureau

Amid tight security and maintaining Covid-19 protocols, voting for the by-elections in five Assembly seats in Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled Assam began on Saturday morning, officials said.

Nearly eight lakh voters, including 3,93,078 women would decide the fate of 31 candidates in Mariani, Thowra, Bhabanipur, Gossaigaon and Tamulpur Assembly seats, poll officials added.

The BJP has fielded turncoat candidates in three seats -- Congress's Rupjyoti Kurmi in Mariani and Sushanta Borgohain in Thowra, and All India United Democratic Front (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 primary opposition Congress, which fielded candidates in all five seats, has been trying hard at least to retain the Thowra and Mariani seat, the party won in the recent Assembly polls held in March-April this year.

The AIUDF has fielded candidates in Bhabanipur and Gossaigaon, Akhil Gogoi-led Raijor Dal is contesting in Thowra and Mariani while 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 recent Assembly polls.

The poll officials said the double dose vaccination of all polling personnel, agents of the candidates and political parties, drivers engaged in the election process are mandatory.

One health worker has been posted as Covid Nodal Officer in each of the 1,176 polling stations in five Assembly seats.

Similarly, the four Assembly constituencies in West Bengal -- Dinhata, Shantipur, Khardaha and Gosaba (SC) going for polls on Saturday, after the recent state Assembly polls in April-May, is going to face by-elections for the second time in six months.

The four Assembly constituencies were equally shared by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Trinamool Congress (TMC) during the state Assembly polls where the former won the Dinhata and Shantipur seat and the latter bagged the Khardha and Gosaba seat.

Voting for the by-elections in three Assembly seats in Meghalaya began on Saturday morning amid heavy security deployment and following Covid-19 protocols, officials said.

Voting for the bypoll to the Tuirial Assembly constituency in Kolasib district of Mizoram also began on Saturday morning amid heavy security and following requisite Covid-19 protocols, officials said.