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Goalpara simmers amid counting Cong ahead in rural poll tally

- Repoll ordered in 171 booths

Feb. 14: The trend that emerged from the first day of counting today indicated that the ruling Congress would win a majority of the seats in the panchayat polls with the extent of the victory margin dominating political discussions.

Though Assam election commissioner Biren Dutta refused to speak on the trend and results, sources in the state election commission told The Telegraph that the Congress was leading in many constituencies both in Upper and lower Assam.

“Barring some constituencies in Upper Assam, the ruling party is leading by a good margin in a majority of constituencies. Among the Opposition, only the BJP is doing well and leading in some constituencies in Upper Assam. The trend is more or less similar in lower Assam. The AIUDF is leading in some parts of lower Assam, especially Dhubri. The trend is still unclear in Barak Valley and the fight is mainly between the Congress and the BJP,” the source said.

Sources said the AGP was seen leading only in Bongaigaon district in lower Assam and a few constituencies in the Upper Assam districts.

Out of 29 zila parishad constituencies, AIUDF is leading in 15, Congress in six, BJP in four, BPF in one and Independents in three in the second round of counting being held at Dhubri, Bilasipara and Hatsinghimari in Dhubri district.

“Results of all anchalik panchayats are expected tonight but zila parishad results would take more time, as the second round of counting started around 7pm and three rounds are yet to be done,” a poll official in Hatsinghimari in Dhubri district said.

In Bongaigaon, there is a triangular contest between Congress, AGP and AIUDF in 12 zila parishad constituencies.

The counting of ballots in the Barak Valley districts is going very slowly with the authorities doubting if they could complete it within the assigned deadline tomorrow evening.

Congress appears to be ahead in Cachar and Karimganj districts. In Hailakandi, AGP candidate Mehnaz Choudhury has established a considerable lead in the Boalipar zila parishad seat.

There was cautious optimism among Congress leaders at Rajiv Bhawan in Guwahati. Most believed that the party would do better than in 2008 but were guarded in expressing their opinion as counting is still on.

Haren Das, Congress media department chairman, who treated party colleagues to biryani and tea, said, “We will do well.”

A secretary who was an integral part of the party’s coordination team that toured the districts to ensure logistical help to sitting MLAs and district units said the Congress should bag 70 per cent of the seats on an average. “It will be over 70 per cent in Upper Assam, around 60 per cent in lower Assam and 50 per cent in Dhubri district. According to the trend, we should improve our seat tally,” he said.

Dibrugarh BJP legislator Prasanta Phukan said a clear picture was yet to emerge as counting was still on, but one thing was clear — the total votes polled in favour of BJP had increased in Upper Assam. He said in some places such as Duliajan, the BJP was doing remarkably well. “So far, results of five gaon panchayat president posts in Duliajan have been declared and BJP candidates have won in four of these,” he said.

The AGP headquarters at Ambari in Guwahati looked deserted and only one or two senior leaders were seen till 3pm.

Senior leader and former health minister Kamala Kalita, who was glued to the television looking out for poll results, told The Telegraph that of the results declared so far, the party’s show in Nalbari, Sonitpur and parts of Kamrup was short of expectations. “The tally so far shows that AIUDF reaped benefits in Borkhetri, while in some other places we lost seats owing to anti-incumbency sentiments. Besides, the money power of the Congress played an important role,” he said. He said both AIUDF and BJP had reaped the benefits of the BTAD violence.

The state election commission has decided to hold re-polls in 171 polling stations in Goalpara district, with an official communiqué stating that the schedule for the re-poll would be notified by the commission on a later date.

AJYCP members set fire to chief minister Tarun Gogoi’s effigy in Jorhat today protesting rural polls in the Rabha Hasong Autonomous Council area.


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