| A jawan keeps vigil outside an EVM strongroom at Sarusajai stadium in Guwhati on Friday. Picture by UB Photos |
Guwahati, April 25: Assam has set a state record in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections with a voter turnout of 80.08 per cent.
“The average turnout in the three-phase polls stands at 80.08 per cent, which is the highest in any election held in Assam so far. The previous highest was recorded in 2011 Assembly polls with 76.05 per cent voter turnout. In the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, the state had recorded 69.70 per cent turnout,” an official in the state election department said.
Assam’s chief electoral officer Vijayendra told The Telegraph today that the final phase, conducted in six constituencies yesterday, registered the highest voter turnout of 82.2 per cent, followed by 78.72 in the first phase and 76.33 in the second.
In the first phase on April 7, polls were held in Jorhat, Dibrugarh, Tezpur, Kaliabor and Lakhimpur and on April 12 in Diphu, Silchar and Karimganj.
In the final phase yesterday, polls were held in Dhubri (88.49 per cent voter turnout), Barpeta (84.45 per cent), Nawgong (82.20 per cent), Mangaldoi (81.50 per cent), Kokrajhar (80.94 per cent) and Gauhati (78.34 per cent) constituencies.
Vijayendra said the turnout in this year’s election was expected to rise in case the Election Commission orders repoll in some booths in Kokrajhar and Gauhati constituencies. He attributed the development to increasing awareness among people, the Election Commission’s innovative initiatives and the positive role of the media.
Political analyst Arupjyoti Choudhury said inclusion of the names of a large number of first-time voters was one of the reasons for the rise in the voter turnout percentage. He said it was a good sign that people, instead of sitting at home and complaining about the same old issues, had come out to exercise their franchise.
The All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) congratulated the people for coming out in such large numbers to cast their votes. AASU adviser Samujjal Bhattacharjya told this correspondent that the students’ union had appealed to the indigenous people to exercise their franchise to elect the “right” candidates to solve issues like illegal migration, constitutional safeguard for Assamese people, NRC update and exclusive rights of indigenous people over the state’s land and natural resources.
“A majority of the indigenous people realised the importance of voting, which might have resulted in the record turnout this time,” he added.
PCC chief spokesperson Mehdi Alam Bora said first-time and young voters were encouraged to vote after they received their voter photo-identity cards.
“The young voters sensed a feeling of empowerment, that they had a say in the election process and in the making and unmaking of a government,” he said.
Bora denied reports that the large turnout would go against the Congress in winning maximum seats this time.
The caption accompanying the photograph of Bijoya Chakravarty in Friday’s edition of The Telegraph inadvertently had the word Ahmed appended. The error is regretted.