Photo: PTI
Photo: PTI

Assam, West Bengal see high voter turnout in assembly elections

While 82.02% voted in Assaminthe final phase of polls,79.51% voted in the second part of first phase of polls in Bengal

New Delhi: Assam witnessed another heavy voter turnout on Monday in the second and final phase of polling in assembly elections.

Some 82.02% of people eligible to vote turned out in the north-eastern state, where the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is seeking to unseat the Congress.

The turnout matched the record set in the first phase.

West Bengal, too, saw a high turnout in the second part of the first phase of polling in the eastern state at 79.51% on Monday.

The turnout calculations are provisional and the final figures may differ marginally.

Meanwhile, in what could be bad news for the Congress party in Assam, the Election Commission on Monday said a first information report (FIR) had been filed against chief minister Tarun Gogoi for holding a press meet earlier in the day, which violated a tenet of the Representation of People Act (RPA).

It’s the first time that the voter turnout in Assam has crossed the 80% mark. In its electoral history, the highest until now had been the 79.21% recorded in the 1985 elections.

In the assembly elections of 2011, the state had clocked a total turnout of 75.92%.

Chaygaon assembly constituency in Kamrup district recorded the highest turnout of 89.10% on Monday. Patacharkuchi in Bajali district and Gauhati East constituency in Kamrup Metro district had the lowest turnout of 73%.

Analyst say that the high turnout could point to an anti-incumbency wave against Gogoi’s administration; it could also be an indication of voters from minority communities coming out to vote in heavy numbers.

“The high turnout in both first and last phase in Assam shows greater polarization among minorities who are coming out in large numbers and also the anti-incumbency against the ruling Congress government led by chief minister Tarun Gogoi," said Arupjyoti Saikia, head and professor of history at the department of humanities and social sciences, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Guwahati.

“There are a huge number of minority voters who came out to vote because it is a question of their political relevance but the massive Hindu urban Assamese voters are dissatisfied with the state government so they have come out because of the anti-incumbency," he added.

Mint had reported last week that the anti-incumbency factor against the Gogoi government and the message of development delivered by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) could pose a tough challenge to the Congress.

The BJP, for the first time, is set to give a tough contest to the Congress in the state. Also in the fray is the Badruddin Ajmal-led All India United Democratic Front. The BJP is in alliance with the Bodoland People’s Front and the Asom Gana Parishad.

On Monday, 31 assembly constituencies in West Bengal went to the polls; the provisional turnout was high at 79.51% but fell short of the 83.72% recorded in 2011 in the same constituencies. Thirteen constituencies were in Paschim Medinipur district and nine each in Bankura and Bardhaman districts.

In West Bengal, where five phases of polling still remain, chief minister Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress is pitted against rivals Left parties, the Congress as well as the BJP, which is trying to make inroads in the state.

According to the Election Commission, the polling on Monday was “largely free and fair." In Barpetta district of Assam, an incident of stone throwing and a cane charge by the police was reported. “Three people were injured in the process and one person, who was hospitalized, later succumbed to injuries. A district magistrate-led enquiry has already been issued in this regard," Sandeep Saxena, deputy election commissioner in charge of Assam and West Bengal, told reporters on Monday in the national capital.

Saxena said an FIR had been registered against Gogoi for alleged violation of the RPA.

“Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi has addressed a press conference today morning. Our local unit has brought to knowledge that any gathering or press conference that may influence voters may result in action under the RPA," Saxena said. “In the press conference, Gogoi made some allegations, which were being enquired into..."

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