Assam election 2021 LIVE Updates: Congress' Sushmita Dev casts vote in Silchar, hails 'inclusive' Mahajoth alliance

Assembly Election 2021 Updates: BJP slams Mamata for letter to Oppn, says democracy should be 'last word' in her dictionary

Assam election 2021 LIVE Updates: Sushmita Dev hailed the Mahajoth alliance, comprising Congress, AIUDF and eight other parties, as an ‘inclusive’ one and called the BJP-AGP alliance communal

Assam election 2021 LATEST Updates: Sushmita Dev hailed the Mahajoth alliance, comprising Congress, AIUDF and eight other parties, as an ‘inclusive’ one and called the BJP-AGP alliance communal.

Badruddin Ajmal, whose party is contesting the Assam polls in alliance with the Congress, cast his vote at polling station number 21 in Hojai. “PM Modi and Amit Shah have said they’ll send Bangladeshi infiltrators back. I challenge them to tell if even 100 Bangladeshis have been sent back in the last five years. They are the ones who get them here,” he told ANI.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union minister Amit Shah reached out to the people of Assam and urged them to cast their votes in the second phase today. Modi asked people to “strengthen the festival of democracy”, while Shah said voters should vote for a “self-reliant Assam”.

The fate of 345 candidates, including top ministers and Opposition faces, will be sealed today (Thursday, 1 April ) as 39 seats go to the polls in the second phase of the Assam Assembly election.

Some of the high-profile candidates in the fray include BJP minister Parimal Suklabaidya, Deputy Speaker Aminul Haque Laskar, expelled BJP MLA Dilip Paul AIUDF chief Badruddin Ajmal’s brother Sirajuddin Ajmal, among others.

In all, 345 candidates, including 26 women, are in the fray in this phase, the polling for which will be held from 7 am to 6 pm amid heavy security and strict COVID-19 guidelines, officials said.

The ruling BJP is contesting 34 seats, while its allies Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and United People’s Party Liberal (UPPL) are fighting in six and three seats, respectively.

There are “friendly contests” between the BJP and the AGP in Patharkandi and Algapur, while the BJP is engaged in similar fights with the UPPL in Majbat and Kalaigaon.

The Mahajoth or Grand Alliance’s Congress is contesting in 28 seats, the AIUDF in seven and Bodoland Peoples’ Front (BPF) in four.

The newly-formed Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP) is contesting in 19 seats. There is a direct contest between the NDA and the Grand Alliance in 25 constituencies, while the rest are witnessing triangular fights.

The second phase of polling will see a total of 73,44,631 voters exercising their franchise. Of them, 37,34,537 are males and 36,09,959females, while 135 are third gender voters. A total of 10,592 polling stations have been set up in 5,774 premises.

There are 556 polling stations where only women officials will be deployed, while there are 117 model polling stations. The webcasting facility will be available at 5,315 polling stations.

“We are fully prepared for it. Dispatch of polling and police officials began from yesterday,” Chief Electoral Officer of Assam Nitin Khade said on preparations for the second phase of polling.

Total 42,368 polling personnel have been deployed for the second phase. Of them, 1,516 left for their destinations on Tuesday itself to reach polling stations set up in remote locations, especially in the three hill districts of DimaHasao, Karbi Anglong and West Karbi Anglong, official sources said.

Sanitisers, thermal scanners, soaps and handwashing facilities will be available at all polling stations, they said.

Hojai constituency has the highest of 2,65,886 voters, while Howraghat (ST) constituency has the lowest of 1,32,339 voters. Postal ballots have been issued to 21,281 people over 80 years old, and 5,407 Persons with Disabilities (PwD). Total 17,164 voters have been issued those through the Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballot System (ETPBS).

The second phase polling will also involve 26 general observers, 12 police observers, 16 expenditure observers and 807 micro-observers. Elections to the 126-member Assam assembly are being held in three-phases with 79.97 percent of the electorate exercising their franchise in 47 constituencies in the first phase on 27 March.

The third and final phase elections will be held on April 6 for 40 seats.

Items worth Rs 110 crore seized, 2,696 MCC violations reported

On Wednesday, Khade said that agencies have confiscated items worth over Rs 110 crore in Assam, breaking all previous records in seizures of cash, liquor, drug and other goods after the Assembly polls were notified in the state.

“Till now, seizures of drugs and narcotics worth Rs 34.29 crore, over 16.61 lakh litres of liquor worth Rs 33.44 crore, cash amounting to Rs 24.50 crore along with gold, silver jewellery and gold bars worth Rs 3.68 crore have been made,” Khade said.

During the 2016 state polls, central and state agencies had seized goods worth less than Rs 20 crore.

Freebies and other items like cigarettes of foreign origin, poppy seeds, black pepper, areca nuts, pan masala worth Rs 14.91 crore have also been confiscated, Khade said.

“So far, 50 FIRs have been registered across the state related to expenditure violation and 5,234 FIRs lodged in connection with violation of excise rules,” the CEO said.

However, he did not share the number of persons who were detained and arrested in connection with the FIRs.

Khade also said that a total of 2,696 cases have been registered. “Out of these, 1,272 cases have been registered online through cVigil app of which 908 cases have been found to be correct,” he said.

Key candidates, constituencies in fray

BJP minister Parimal Suklabaidya is in a direct contest with Congress’ Kamakhya Prasad Mala in Dholai, while Deputy Speaker Aminul Haque Laskar of the BJP is in a straight contest with AIUDF’s Karim Uddin Barbhuiyan in Sonai. Minister Pijush Hazarika is locked in a triangular contest with Congress’s Swapan Kumar Mandal and AJP’s BubulDas from Jagiroad (SC), and his cabinet colleague BhabeshKalita is in a direct fight with AJP’s Babul Saharia in the Rangiya constituency.

Rajya Sabha MP Biswajit Daimary is fighting against BPF’s Karuna Kanta Swargiary in Paneri, while AIUDF’s Sirajuddin Ajmal, a former MP and MLA, is fighting the elections against AGP’s Sadikullah Bhuyan from Jamunamukh.

Former Congress minister Gautam Roy, contesting on a BJP ticket from Katigora, is in a direct fight with his ex-party colleague Khalliluddin Mazumdar. Gautam’s son Rahul Roy, contesting as an Independent, is in a triangular contest with former Congress minister Ajit Singh and sitting BJP MLA MihirKanti Shome from Udharbond.

Gautam Roy’s daughter-in-law Daisy Roy is also contesting as an Independent from Algapur where the AGP’sAftabuddin Laskar and BJP’s Moon Swarnakar, in a ‘friendly contest’, will battle against sitting AIUDF MLA NijamuddinChoudhury. In Silchar, sitting BJP MLA Dilip Paul, now expelled from the party, is contesting as an Independent and is locked in a contest with BJP’s Dipayan Chakraborty and Congress’sTamal Kanti Banik.

Another BJP minister, Sum Ronghang, on being denied ticket joined the Congress and is locked in a direct fight against BJP’s Bidya Sing Engleng in Diphu. Total 175 candidates are fighting the phase two elections from 15 seats in the three districts of Karimganj, Hailakandi and Cachar. Algapur has the highest 19 candidates.

There are only two candidates in the Udalguri (ST)constituency where BPF minister Rihon Daimary is engaged in a direct contest with UPPL’s Gobinda Chandra Basumatary, who is currently the deputy chief of the Bodoland Territorial Council(BTC). The elections will be held amid tight security with310 companies of forces being deployed for the second phase, an official said.

Round-the-clock patrolling is being carried out along with strict vigil in critical areas in all the constituencies spread over 13 districts in Barak Valley, the Hills districts and parts of Central and Lower Assam. A constable and a home guard will be deployed in each polling station with sector and zonal police officers to monitor the situation.

With inputs from PTI

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