Pre-Bihu date with elections

Assam to vote on April 4 and 11

By A STAFF REPORTER in Guwahati
  • Published 5.03.16
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Guwahati, March 4: Assembly elections in Assam will be held in two phases, on April 4 and 11, before the Bihu festivities, which was a key demand of political parties. The festivities start from April 13.

The chief electoral officer of Assam, Vijayendra, today said a notification to this effect would be issued on March 11 for the first phase and on March 21 for the second phase. Counting of votes will be held on May 19.

Assam will go to the polls along with West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry.

"In the first phase, polling will be held in 65 Assembly constituencies in Assam spread over Barak Valley, Upper Assam, the hill districts and on the north bank up to Udalguri district. In the second phase, 61 constituencies will go to polls, covering lower and central Assam districts including Guwahati, Nagaon and Morigaon," Vijayendra said at a media conference here this evening.

The first phase will cover 12,190 polling stations at 8,887 locations and the second phase 12,698 polling stations at 8,169 locations. Altogether 7,629 polling booths have been identified as sensitive, 3,663 as hyper-sensitive and 1,913 as critical. As there is no mobile phone connectivity in 735 polling booths, poll officials posted there will use satellite phones and police wireless sets for communication.

Vijayendra said 6.76 lakh voters are in the age group 18 to 19 years and comprise three per cent of the entire electorate. Seventy-six per cent voters are under 50 years of age and 31 per cent under 30 years. New voters can enrol themselves until 10 days from the last date of nomination, he said. About 88 per cent voters are in rural areas and 12 per cent in urban areas and the number of D (doubtful) voters in Assam is 1,36,448, he added.

A little over 2,300 voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) will be used in 10 constituencies in the state for the first time.

"Polling will be videographed in 2,549 polling booths and webcast in 865 polling booths," Vijayendra said.

Altogether 1,65,000 civil personnel and 60,000 security personnel will be deployed for poll duty. Four helicopters, 10 elephants, 600 boats, 24,700 vehicles will be hired for election-related work. Additional director-general of police S.N. Singh said 518 illegal arms have been seized during a special drive launched ahead of the polls.

The maximum expenditure limit by each candidate has been fixed at Rs 28 lakh. According to the Election Commission's model code of conduct, which came into force today, anybody in the state carrying cash beyond Rs 50,000 till the polls will be subjected to scrutiny by the Election Commission squad.

For the first time, photographs of all candidates will be put on the EVMs along with their names and symbols to eliminate confusion for voters. Every polling station will be equipped with basic minimum facilities like drinking water, toilet and ramp for physically challenged voters.

Incidentally, the polling dates are the same as those in 2011 but for the results the people of Assam will have to wait for six more days than in 2011.

Five registered parties - the AGP, AIUDF, BJP, Congress and the NCP - had sought two-phase polls before Bihu in a meeting with chief election commissioner Nasim Zaidi, the two election commissioners, A.K. Jyoti and Om Prakash Rawat, and state government officials here on December 21 last year. The CPI had sought a two-phase poll after the Bihu festivities.