Over 73 per cent of the 6910592 voters were cast in five Assam Lok Sabha constituencies Thursday during the second phase of polling, an election department communique said. The communique said that 73.32 per cent votes were polled across 8,992 booths in Karimganj (SC), Silchar, Autonomous Districts (ST), Nowgong and Mangaldoi constituencies to decide the fate of 50 candidates.
"This is the initial voting percentage at 5 pm. It will increase further as people are still in the queue at the polling booths," state chief electoral officer Mukesh Chandra Sahu told PTI. All those who had queued at the booths before 5 pm will be allowed to cast their votes, he said.
Nowgong recorded the highest polling of 75.71 per cent at 5 pm, followed by Mangaldoi and Silchar with 75.07 per cent and 71.79 per cent respectively. In Karimganj the figure was 71.41 per cent and Autonomous District witnessed the lowest voting at 69.51 per cent, the election office said.
Repolling was conducted during the day at polling station number 165 at Dhemaji Town High School (EW), where voting took place in the first phase on August 11, due to non-erasing of the mock poll data and 69.
Sahu said there were reports of malfunctioning of EVMs during the poll from some booths and those machines were been replaced. "As per the initial reports, around 120 VVPATS were replaced, while 20 units of control and ballot units were changed during the main polling. Some more machines were changed at the time of mock polling. These figures may go up slightly as we have not received the final numbers from the centres yet," the CEO said.
Sahu termed reports of votes going to only one particular party despite the voters pressing different buttons as "fake". Brisk polling was reported since the beginning at 7 am with women and first time voters queueing up at the the booths even before the exercise began.
The 84 model polling stations wore a festive look with balloons and flowers used to decorate them and the voters were welcomed by volunteers wearing traditional dresses. Arrangements for drinking water, baby feeding rooms and resting place for the elderly were made in them.
Many volunteers were seen escorting the elderly and people with disabilities in their wheel chairs. The 137 polling stations in the five constituencies which were under women personnel saw voters queuing up since early morning.
Among the prominent voters were AIUDF chief Badruddin Ajmal, AIUDF sitting MP Radheyshyam Biswas and Congress sitting MP Sushmita Dev. Former Chief Minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta did not cast his votes in protest against the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill and the alliance of his party AGP with BJP.
Congress Rajya Sabha MP Bhubaneswar Kalita could not vote as his name was figured in the electoral rolls of Mangaldoi and Gauhati.
The prominent candidates in the fray on Thursday included sitting Congress MPs Sushmita Dev from Silchar and Biren Singh Engti from Autonomous District, sitting AIUDF MP Radheshyam Biswas from Karimganj, Congress Rajya Sabha MP Bhubaneswar Kalita, two BJP MLAs - Rupak Sharma from Nowgong and Rajdeep Roy from Silchar, Assembly deputy speaker Kripanath Mallah from Karimganj and former Congress minister Prodyut Bordoloi from Nowgong.
Besides Dev, the two other women candidates in the fray are Nazia Yasmin Mazumdar of National Peoples’ Party in Silchar and Swarnalata Chaliha of the SUCI© in Mangaldoi.
A total of 78.27 per cent of the 76,03,458-strong electorate had voted during the first phase in which election Dibrugarh, Jorhat, Kaliabor, Lakhimpur and Tezpur seats on April 11. The third and last phase of voting in Assam will take place on April 23 for the Gauhati, Barpeta, Kokrajhar (ST) and Dhubri seats.