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Assam sees over 63% polling till 3 pm

Monday, 7 April 2014 - 5:45pm IST | Place: GUWAHATI | Agency: IANS

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Over 63% voters cast their ballot till 3 pm on Monday in five Lok Sabha constituencies in Assam, officials said. The final polling percentage may be over 70% as some people in some polling centres are yet to vote.

Monday's polling kick-started the nine-phase 16th Lok Sabha polls in the country.

As balloting began at 7 am, people queued up at polling stations in the state's five constituencies - Tezpur, Jorhat, Kaliabor, Dibrugarh and Lakhimpur. Brisk polling was seen, barring a few booths where the process was briefly delayed due to technical snags in the electronic voting machines (EVMs).

The overall polling percentage in the five constituencies was 63.37% till 3 pm, Assam's chief electoral officer Vijayendra said.

Although balloting officially ends at 5 p.m., polling officials in each booth have to wait till the last man in the queue casts his vote.

While 12% polling was recorded in the first two hours till 9 am, it went up to 36.44% by 11 a.m. By 1 pm the polling percentage went up to over 49%, the officials said.

With 65.59% polling, Kaliabor recorded the highest voting till 3 pm among the five constituencies, followed by Tezpur with 64.8 percent, Lakhimpur with 64.03%, Jorhat with 61.92%t and Dibrugarh with 60.50%, the electoral office said.

Polling was peaceful in all the five constituencies, even as the day coincided with the 'Raising Day' of insurgent outfit United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA).

Although there were no direct threats by the militants this time, police and security forces were deployed in strength to ensure smooth polling.

"There were reports of malfunctioning of some EVMs. We replaced 42 EVMs in different polling stations. So far, polling has been peaceful and there were no reports of any major problem from anywhere," Vijayendra said.

"The polling percentage is likely to increase as there are still long queues in some of the polling stations. We will give tokens to people still waiting in the queues and they can vote. However, no one will be allowed to stand in the queue after 5 pm," he said.

An estimated 6.4 million people were eligible to vote Monday for the five seats, for which there are a total of 51 candidates in the fray.

The second phase of polling will be held April 12 in three of the state's total 14 constituencies - Silchar, Karimganj and Diphu (autonomous district).

The third phase will be held April 24 in the remaining six constituencies - Gauhati, Barpeta, Nowgong, Dhubri, Kokrajhar and Mangaldai.

Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi's son Gourav Gogoi, outgoing Congress MP Bijoy Krishna Handique, BJP state president Sarbananda Sonowal and union ministers Ranee Narah and Paban Singh Ghatowar are among Monday's prominent aspirants.

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