Staff Reporter GUWAHATI, Oct 21 - Over 75 per cent of the electorate exercised their franchise in the by-elections to four of the Legislative Assembly constituencies of Assam – Ratabari, Jania, Rangapara and Sonari – which went to the polls today.
Voters queue at a polling station under Rangapara LAC in Sonitpur on Monday. – UB Photos
Polling was peaceful across the four Assembly constituencies with no major incidents of violence reported, said Election Commission officials.
Voting continued at some places beyond 5 pm. The exact poll percentage is expected tomorrow morning after the polling parties, many of which were on duty in remote polling stations, return to the respective strong-rooms, Election Commission officials added.
The average turnout figure in the four constituencies stood at 75.69 per cent as on 7 pm.
The highest polling of 79.08 per cent was reported from Jania constituency, while Rangapara witnessed 77.80 per cent polling, Ratabari 74.37 per cent, and Sonari 71.30 per cent, as per data released by the Election Commission.
Sources in various political parties said that the turnout in Sonari was comparatively lower on account of the massive storm which hit parts of upper Assam today.
There were minor glitches at a few polling stations due to technical problems in EVMs and the voting machines had to be replaced.
Voters were seen queuing outside polling booths since early morning at many places. Polling started at 7 am.
Altogether, 20 candidates are in fray in the four constituencies, including nine in Jania, five in Rangapara, four in Ratabari and two in Sonari.
While the BJP and the Congress fielded candidates in all the four seats going to the by-polls, the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) contested only from the Jania constituency.
Ratabari, Rangapara and Sonari are expected to witness a direct fight between the BJP and the Congress. In Jania constituency, a triangular contest is expected among the BJP, the Congress and the AIUDF.
“We are confident of winning from Ratabari, Rangapara and Sonari. As far as Jania is concerned, this is the first time we have contested from that seat. We expect to do well in Jania also,” said State BJP general secretary Pulak Gohain.
The Congress party also expressed confidence about its prospects.
“We are hundred per cent sure that we will win all four seats. People of Assam have lost faith in the BJP. The ruling party’s failure to fulfill its promises, combined with the lack of development and the economic downturn, which has affected the masses badly, has led the voters to look for an alternative. And they see the Congress party as the alternative,” said Ripun Bora, president of Assam Pradesh Congress Committee.
Counting of votes will be taken up on October 24.
The four seats fell vacant after the legislators representing them got elected to the Lok Sabha in the recent parliamentary polls and resigned from the Assembly. Kripanath Mallah (Ratabari), Pallab Lochan Das (Rangapara) and Topon Kumar Gogoi (Sonari) – all three from the BJP – besides Abdul Khaleque of the Congress (Jania) vacated their Assembly seats after getting elected to the Lok Sabha.