Voting ends peacefully in Assam

April 23rd, 2009 - 6:48 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh Guwahati, April 23 (IANS) Voting for the second and final phase of elections in 11 of the 14 parliamentary constituencies in Assam ended peacefully Thursday with millions of people casting their votes, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his wife Gursharan Kaur.
“Voting has ended rather peacefully with heavy polling recorded,” an election official said.

According to preliminary reports, an estimated 60 percent polling was recorded.

“The final polling percentage could be much higher as we are still compiling figures from remote areas,” the official said.

Voting was held in the parliamentary seats of Dibrugarh, Jorhat, Kaliabor, Nagaon, Tezpur, Lakhimpur, Guwahati, Mangaldoi, Barpeta, Dhubri and Kokrajhar.

Earlier, elections in the first phase were held in the three parliamentary seats of Silchar, Karimganj and Autonomous District in Assam April 16. An estimated 69 percent polling was recorded with 37 candidates in the fray.

An estimated 14.73 million voters were eligible to exercise their franchise in the second phase elections in Assam with 121 candidates in the fray, including 11 women candidates.

The fight for political supremacy in Assam was between the ruling Congress party and the opposition combine of the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), while in at least two seats it was a triangular contest with the Asom United Democratic Front (AUDF), a minority based party.

“I was among the first to have voted and I would expect a government in New Delhi that would work for the overall development of the country by maintaining the secular fabric of India,” said Nilpawan Baruah, a doctor.

“We are confident of winning the polls. Our performance and the various development measures we took in Assam would surely not go in vain,” Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi said after casting his vote.

Earlier, the prime minister and his wife arrived in Guwahati and exercised their franchise.

“The Congress in Assam would win a thumping majority and there would be a Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government at the Centre,” Singh told journalists soon after casting his vote with his wife.

“I am really excited to be back home (Guwahati) and cast my vote and it is the duty of all Indians to exercise their franchise,” the prime minister said.

“I am not at all tense about the second phase polling and our performance would be very good.”

On being asked if the Congress would consider a post-poll tie up with the Left parties, Manmohan Singh refrained from making any comment.

Hundreds of people lined the streets leading to the polling station in the Dispur Government Higher Secondary School in the heart of Assam’s main city of Guwahati where Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his wife voted.

The prime minister, elected to the Rajya Sabha from Assam since 1991, has a rented house close to the polling station.

Manmohan Singh is a tenant of former Assam Chief Minister Hiteswar Saikia’s wife Hemoprova Saikia.

The prime minister had not exercised his franchise in the last elections.

Singh returned to New Delhi after spending about 15 minutes at the polling station.

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