Bypolls in Northeast states smooth
Guwahati: Bypolls in four Assembly seats in Assam passed off peacefully on Monday with 75.69 per cent electors casting their votes, according to reports compiled till 5pm.
Assam chief electoral officer Mukesh Sahu told The Telegraph that they would release the final figure on Tuesday, as the process of collecting data is still on. The turnout is likely to increase in the final count. “No untoward incident was recorded during the day,” he said.
People came out in large numbers since morning and stood in queues for hours at different polling stations to vote for their favourite candidates. Altogether 20 candidates were in the fray for the four constituencies.
The polling was held from 7am till 5pm. Sahu said the highest polling was recorded in Jania (79.08 per cent) followed by Rangapara (77.8 per cent), Ratabari (74.37 per cent) and Sonari (71.3 per cent). In 2016, the percentage of polling was 88.72 in Jania, 85.76 in Rangapara, 75.95 in Ratabari and 86.56 in Sonari.
There are 678,898 electors, including one of third gender, in the four Assembly seats. The Election Commission had set up 830 polling stations, 202 in Ratabari, 229 in Jania, 197 in Rangapara and 202 in Sonari, to conduct the election.
The election was necessitated after representatives of the four constituencies, Topon Kumar Gogoi (Sonari), Pallab Lochan Das (Rangapara), Abdul Khaleque (Jania) and Rajdeep Roy (Ratabari), were elected to the Lok Sabha
Heavy rainfall since morning affected the voter turnout in Sonari. A voter said bad weather was only one factor for the low turnout. “The enthusiasm of voters seen during the past few elections was somehow missing. Many did not vote as they had limited choice of candidates as well as political parties,” he said.
Altogether 170,340 voters will decide the fate of Congress candidate Sushil Suri and BJP’s Nabanita Handique, locked in a straight contest in Sonari.
Tezpur BJP MP and a former MLA of Rangapara, Pallab Lochan Das, arrived in the constituency to take stock of the situation. He had campaigned extensively for the party’s candidate Rajen Borthakur. Das hoped Borthakur would win with a big margin as the BJP would get “maximum votes in tea garden areas”.
Rangapara, Ratabari and Sonari have a decisive population of the tea garden community. The Congress fielded tea garden leaders in all the three constituencies while none of the BJP candidate was from the tea garden community.
Shella bypoll: In Meghalaya, byelection to Shella constituency “passed off smoothly and peaceful with a turnout of 84.56 per cent”, chief electoral officer F.R. Kharkongor said.
In some areas, rain affected the pace of voting and there was a technical problem in a voting machine at Laitïam, one of the 58 polling booths. Voting began at 7am and ended at 5pm. In 2018, Shella had recorded a voter turnout of 86.40 per cent. Six candidates were in the fray.
Voting to the constituency was necessitated following the death of Donkupar Roy.
Additional reporting by Kongkon Bora in Sivasagar and Rining Lyngdoh in Sohra