All set for first phase of tryst with 16th Lok Sabha
The countdown began for six Lok Sabha constituencies in troubled northeast India to go to the polls.
Assam's Congress-held Dibrugarh, Jorhat, Kaliabor, Tezpur and Lakhimpur and the Left bastion of West Tripura will vote from 1700 hrs to 1700 hrs tomorrow. Vigil was intensified. The polling date coincided with the banned United Liberation Front of Asom's 'Raising day'.
In Assam, 64,10,883 voters would decide the fate of 51 candidates, seeking entry into the 16th Lok Sabha.
The Congress has fielded Union ministers Paban Singh Ghatowar (Dibrugarh) and Ranee Narah (Lakhimpur), ex-Union minister BK Handique in Jorhat, Assam CM Tarun Gogoi's son Gaurav from Kaliabor and AICC secretary Bhupen Bora on Tezpur.
BJP has put up state president Sarbananda Sonowal on Lakhimpur and Kamakhya Prasad Tasa in Jorhat.
The Asom Gana Parishad has reposed its faith in MP Jospeh Toppo again from Tezpur, ex-MP Arun Kumar Sharma in Kaliabor, former MLA Anup Phukan on Dibrugarh and former minister Pradip Hazarika from Jorhat. CPI veteran Drupad Borgohain is contesting from Jorhat. Former three-time Congress MP Mani Kumar Subba is contesting as an Independent from Tezpur.
AAP, AITC and All India Forward Bloc are also in the fray in the first of the three phases of the Lok Sabha polls in Assam.
As many as 38,463 polling officers and personnel will be on duty in 8,588 polling stations.
Paramilitary forces have scrambled to 1221 polling stations. and 321 companies of security personnel will be deployed.
Among the polling stations, 2710 have been identified as not safe.
Video-cameras have been installed in 407 polling stations and 139 polling stations have been covered with still-cameras.
Altogether 200 polling stations will have web casting facility.
Two helicopters will be kept on stand-by at Dibrugarh and Lilabari (Lakhimpur).
There are 13 candidates in Lakhimpur and Kaliabor and six in Dibrugarh.
Ruling Congress and BJP and AGP are in the fray in all the constituencies.
The largest electorate is in Kaliabor and the smallest is Dibrugarh.
Among the campaigners was Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for the Congress and BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi and No 2 Rahul Gandhi, BJP president Rajnath Singh and Nagaland CM Neiphiu Rio (for AGP) also had hit the campaign trail.
The Congress, which had won all the constituencies going to polls in the first phase in 2009 elections barring Tezpur, went to the voters, promising to continue the developmental activities.
The Opposition parties, on the other hand, sought to bank on the anti-incumbency factor. It will be a multi-cornered poll battle for West Tripura.
A total 12,46,794 voters would decide the fate of 13 candidates, including one woman, in 1605 polling stations.
Election Commission of India has set up three model booths with all women polling personnel in Agartala to encourage women to participate in conduct and management of polls.
There have been no reports of any untoward incidents so far and the campaigning has been peaceful.
ECI has recruited as many as 20,000 polling personnel and about equal number of security personnel to conduct election in West Tripura constituency besides, hiring a chopper for air surveillance, as well as dog and flying squads to ensure free and fair polling.
It has also increased both remuneration and insurance cover for the polling personnel.
Two polling stations of Gomuti district under West Tripura constituency have been catagorised as hyper-sensitive while 474 stations were identified as sensitive in terms of security.
Traditionally, West Tripura constituency has been won by CPI-M in past 11 general elections.
CPI-M nominee Shankar Prasad Datta, Congress candidate Prof Arunoday Saha, former vice-chancellor of Tripura University, BJP state president Sudhindra Chandra Dasgupta, Trinamool Congress state Chairman Ratan Chakraborty, Tripura Pragatishil Gramin Congress president Subal Bhowmik and Aam Aadmi Party's Dr Salil Saha, a renowned spine surgeon, are in the fray.
Border Security Force (BSF) has deployed three addition battalion forces along Indo-Bangladesh border in Tripura to check illegal entry into Indian Territory.
Altogether 35 companies of additional central paramilitary forces are in place.
(Posted on 06-04-2014)