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Assam rural poll dates out

- 3-phase process to begin on Jan. 30 and end on Feb. 12

Guwahati, Dec. 17: The Assam state election commission today set the panchayat election bandwagon rolling by declaring the dates for the approximately Rs 70 crore exercise across the state barring the Sixth Schedule areas.

State election commissioner Biren Dutta said this evening that the elections for the 26,844 seats would be held in three phases on January 30, February 6 and 12.

“We expect the polls to pass off as a festival as we do not apprehend any law and order problem,” Dutta said. The model code of conduct has come into effect with the announcement of the dates. Dutta said the election dates were drawn up after taking into consideration several events that are scheduled around the same time.

“There is the Asam Sahitya Sabha session from January 31 to February 5 and then there are the higher secondary and matric examinations, so we had to find the appropriate window for the elections to avoid any clash of dates,” he said.

He said under the model code, no use of loudspeakers from 7pm to 8am would be allowed to control noise pollution. “Besides, this is winter and people in the rural areas where the elections would be held retire early so we must ensure there is peace and quiet,” he said.

Among the other don’ts when the model code of conduct is in place is a ban on exit polls by any agency.

“Also, there cannot be any transfer of officials till the model of conduct is in place,” Dutta said.

According to him, a strict watch would be kept on election expenses, which have been raised, by the candidates. “We will also ensure that ministers don’t mix their official work with election chores,” he said.

On the issue of holding of panchayat elections in areas falling under the Rabha Hasong Autonomous Council, Dutta said the state election commission has already spoken to the state government on the issue and is hopeful of conducting the polls in March next year.

The panchayat elections were postponed in Rabha Hasong council areas, which fall in Goalpara and Kamrup districts because of violence in 2008.


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