Assam records over 60 percent polling

Guwahati: Over 60 percent of the 95 lakh electorate cast their ballot till 3.30 p.m. on Monday in the first round of assembly elections to pick 65 legislators in Assam, officials here said. Additional Chief Electoral Officer Nitin Khade said 61.34 percent polling was recorded till 3.30 p.m. The 65 constituencies which saw polling on Monday are mainly located in the tea belt, north of the Brahmaputra river and in the Barak Valley. These include three seats reserved for Dalits and 10 for tribals. "Polling has been peaceful," Khade told IANS. The second and final phase of elections to pick a 126-member assembly will take place on April 11. Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, who cast his ballot in his Titabar constituency, urged people to vote in large numbers. "The resilience of our democratic polity will be in evidence once again as people come out to exercise their right to vote," Gogoi told the media after casting his ballot. The fate of Bharatiya Janata Party's chief ministerial candidate Sarbananda Sonowal, who is seeking election from Majuli, the riverine island, will also be decided on Monday. Sonowal said the BJP would win a majority of the seats in the first phase. "We can see that people are craving for a change in the state. I hope they will vote for us for a change," he said outside a polling station at Gormur in Majuli. A total of 95,11,732 voters are to decide the fate of 539 candidates in the first phase. They are voting in 12,190 polling stations spread across 17 districts. Of the total polling stations, 78 are staffed exclusively by women. There are also 134 'model' polling stations which have a medical team and an eatery, and where elderly voters were felicitated in a traditional manner. The eldest voter will also plant a tree at his/her model polling station.