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PM, wife to vote today

Dipjyoti Kalita checks the electoral rolls at the school in Guwahati on Wednesday where Manmohan Singh will vote. Picture by Sumir Karmakar

Guwahati, April 23: As he flipped through freshly photocopied pages of electoral rolls of 188 Dispur Higher Secondary School, a polling booth of 51 Dispur Legislative Assembly constituency here, Dipjyoti Kalita, an upper division assistant of Assam PWD, looked excited.

“After Hemo Prova Saikia and her family members are their serial numbers,” he said. Saikia is the widow of former chief minister Hiteswar Saikia.

Kalita is a polling booth-level officer at the school where Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his wife Gursharan Kaur will cast their votes tomorrow.

“Only the polling party, comprising the presiding officer and three polling officers, will be inside when the Prime Minister votes. But it will be good to see them from so near,” Kalita said, as he got busy with a young voter who came to collect his voter’s slip for tomorrow’s election that begins at 7am.

Singh and his wife are among 1,149 voters who will vote at the booth located close to the Assam secretariat.

Singh’s landlady from 7 Nandan Nagar nearby, Hemo Prova Saikia, her two sons, three daughters-in-law, are ahead of Singh and Kaur in the electoral roll serial. Saikia’s eldest son Debabrat is a legislator from Nazira and so he votes there.

“We don’t know whether the Saikias will come and vote as per the serial numbers in the rolls,” said Kalita.

Singh and his wife are likely to land at Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport at Borjhar, about 25km from the city, around 11.30 am. Sources said a chopper would bring them to the College of Veterinary Science playground at Khanapara from where a cavalcade of vehicles will take them to the polling booth.

“As per the schedule worked out so far, the Prime Minister and his wife will stay in Guwahati for an hour and 10 minutes. Security arrangements have been made as per the Blue Book of the SPG,” said a police officer here.

The Singhs will return to New Delhi after casting their votes. “About 30 to 35 police personnel have already been deployed at the polling booth where the Prime Minister will vote,” SP (operations), Sudhakar Singh, supervising the security at the polling station, told The Telegraph around 11.30am today. Sources said armed security guards would be deployed in the buildings surrounding the polling station for close watch.

“Normally a voter carries his or her electoral photo identity card and the voter slip. He or she shows it to the first polling officer for verification and the second polling officer issues a slip. The third officer takes the slip and applies ink on the forefinger on the left hand of the voter before he/she is allowed to press the EVM button,” Kalita said.

Manas Bora, son of Assam cabinet minister Akon Bora, is the Congress candidate for the Gauhati seat. Bijoya Chakraborty, the sitting MP from the constituency, is the BJP candidate. AGP’s Birendra Prasad Baishya is another prominent candidate. A total of 18 candidates are fighting for the Gauhati seat tomorrow.

Six Lok Sabha seats — Gauhati, Barpeta, Mangaldoi, Dhubri, Kokrajhar (ST) and Nowgong — go to polls tomorrow on the third and final phase of elections to the 14 seats in Assam.