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Govt push for 2-phase poll
- Congress sets election ball rolling
People queue up outside a polling booth. File picture

Guwahati, Feb. 3: Assam will pitch for two-phase Lok Sabha elections after Rongali Bihu in April at back-to-back meetings convened by the Election Commission from tomorrow to seek the views of the states before finalising the dates for the parliamentary elections likely to be held between April and May.

The Election Commission will take the views of the chief electoral officers of all states tomorrow and then that of the chief secretaries and the DGPs on February 5 and 6 before arriving at a decision. Assam chief electoral officer Hemanta Narzary left for New Delhi today while chief secretary P.C. Sharma will leave tomorrow.

The request for a phased poll is based on the premise that the 2004 Lok Sabha and the 2006 Assembly elections, held in two phases, were by and large peaceful. The office of the chief electoral officer exuded confidence about being ready for polls by February 20.

Besides Assam, the February 5 meeting will see the poll panel officials interact with chief secretaries of Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Tripura, Nagaland, Manipur and Sikkim at the same time to get an overall view as this would help in the movement and deployment of security personnel and poll officials.

Sources in Dispur indicated that though the views of the chief electoral officer would eventually prevail, the state would pitch for two-phase elections after Rongali Bihu and heavy deployment of security to ensure smooth polling. “This would suit us as there will be neither any examination nor distractions like festivals. The chief secretary, director-general of police and chief electoral officer will go armed with all the data and information sought by the poll panel to arrive at a decision,” the source said.

Poll panel sources today said 40 engineers belonging to the Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL) from Calcutta and Hyderabad were in the field from January 27 examining the 23,000 electronic voting machines to be deployed in 18,703 polling stations. They will submit their report on February 9 on whether there is need to replace any of these.

The election office has trained 48 people as master trainers on how to handle the EVMs. They are now sharing their knowledge in the state’s 27 districts.

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