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Early birds flock to booths, beat the heat

- Electorate in Guwahati opts for morning hours to avoid soaring temperatures

Guwahati, April 24: Polling booths in Guwahati witnessed an early-morning rush of voters in a bid to beat the scorching heat.

With day temperatures zooming up to 40 degrees Celsius in the past two days, voters came out in good numbers early in the morning, but once the heat was at its peak, the turnout started dwindling.

The Regional Meteorological Centre at Borjhar recorded a temperature of 28.8 degrees Celsius at 7.30am in the city, which shot up to 39 degrees Celsius at 12.30pm and further rose to 39.6 degrees Celsius at 2pm.

“Voting began on a brisk note with most of the voters keen to avoid the sweltering heat. Most of the votes were cast between 7am and 9am,” said Sunil Nayak, the presiding officer of polling station number 167 at the office of Assam Khadi and Village Industries Board in Chandmari.

He said of the total 1,099 votes in the polling station, 432 were polled till 1pm.

“I wanted to avoid the scorching heat and that’s why I queued up at the polling station half an hour before voting started. I cast my vote and went back home as early as possible,” said Atowar Rahman Sikdar, a middle-aged voter at polling booth number 156 at Sijubari Hatigaon LP School.

“When I went to cast my vote around 8am, the queue was so long that I returned without casting my vote. I went again at 11.30am and by then the number of voters in the queue has decreased significantly and I cast my vote without much hassle,” said Subhankar Saha, a voter of a polling booth at Blue Mount School in the Kalapahar area of the city.

In the morning hours, the enthusiasm was palpable at polling booths across the city, which is otherwise known for subdued turnout in polls.

The polling percentage stood at 74 per cent at 5pm in Gauhati parliamentary constituency. It was 64.32 per cent during the 2009 general elections.

A large number of voters, including youngsters, senior citizens and women, queued up before voting started at 7am. Many turned up after their morning walk.

But as the day progressed, the scene at the polling stations changed noticeably. Many polling stations wore a near-deserted look in the afternoon as a blazing sun ensured that people stayed indoors.

At 1.30pm, there was no queue at polling booth number 197 at Hatigarh LP School and people could go straight inside the booth to cast their votes.

Though the voting dipped between noon and 4pm, it picked up slightly in the last hour (from 4pm to 5pm).