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General strike in last leg of campaign

Guwahati, April 10 (PTI): An indefinite general strike by a militant outfit in the Autonomous District (ST) along with last-minute campaigning in two constituencies of Karimganj (SC) and Silchar in the Barak valley marked the end of a high-pitched campaigning today for three constituencies in the second phase of Lok Sabha polls in Assam on April 12.

The Karbi Peoplesí Liberation Tigers (KPLT) had called for an indefinite strike since April 8 in the Karbi Anglong district under Autonomous District (ST) demanding immediate creation of a separate autonomous state.

Altogether 37 candidates are in the fray with 17 in Silchar, 15 in Karimganj (SC) and five in the Autonomous District.

Candidates include three-time sitting BJP MP in Silchar Kabindra Purkayastha, two-time sitting Congress MP in Karimganj, Lalit Mohan Suklabaidya, four-time Congress MP from Autonomous District, Biren Singh Engti, and Congress candidate from Silchar Sushmita Dev, also the MLA from Silchar and daughter of former Union minister Santosh Mohan Dev.

A total electorate of 29,26,762 are expected to exercise their franchise in 3,698 polling booths in the three constituencies.

Security was tightened with helicopter surveillance from today to monitor movement of militants while patrolling has been intensified.

Altogether 49 companies of security forces have been deployed in the three constituencies with 20 in Silchar, 17 in the Autonomous District and 12 companies in Karimganj.

National leaders who campaigned in the three constituencies included BJPís prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, its national president Rajnath Singh and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, besides chief minister Tarun Gogoi.

Issues, which had figured during the campaigning, were influx of illegal migrants from Bangladesh, bordering Karimganj and Silchar, development of the constituencies and problem of insurgency in the Autonomous District. The Congress focused on development issues with the chief minister highlighting the Rs 1,000-crore development package for Barak valley sanctioned by his government, but remained non-committal on the issue of autonomy to the Autonomous District.


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