The much-awaited voting for the 40-member Bodo Territorial Council (BTC) took place on Monday with over 75 per cent voters exercising their franchise in the first phase.
Till the closing time of 4:30 pm, 75.21 per cent polling took place out of a total of 13,64,018 voters, who seal the fate of 130 candidates in ballot boxes for 21 constituencies spread across Udalguri and Baksa districts.
An official of the Assam State Election Commission (ASEC) said long queues were still there at several of the booths out of the total 1,739 polling stations as they entered the compounds before 4:30 PM and the voting percentage is likely to go up further.
“It was a complete peaceful voting. There was not a single untoward incident reported from anywhere,” he added. The voting through paper ballot is being done observing COVID-19 protocols by the officials like wearing masks, maintaining social distance inside the booth and keeping sanitisers inside the compound.
A festive look was seen at many places with roadside shops and eateries have been set up, and people thronged there in large numbers, thereby giving a toss to COVID-19 protocols.
The second phase of polling for 19 constituencies will take place on December 10, when 10,23,404 voters will decide the future of 111 candidates by exercising their franchise across 1,407 polling stations in Kokrajhar and Chirang districts. The counting for both the phases will be held on December 12, beginning at 8 am and will continue till completion of the process. Out of the total 3,164 polling booths, the authorities have marked 606 as very sensitive and 1,266 as sensitive, and arranged tight security measures in those, an ASEC official said. A total of 23,87,422 voters will exercise their franchise to elect their representatives for the local council, formed in 2003 and elections held since 2005.
The election to the 40-member BTC was scheduled on April 4, but it was postponed indefinitely due to the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic. Subsequently, the Assam Governor Jagdish Mukhi assumed administration of the Council on expiry of its five-year term on Apr 27, 2020. Hagrama Mohilary-led ruling Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) is trying hard to save its 15-year old BTC government, while its state ally BJP is pulling all gears to dethrone its partner from the Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR). The BJP and BPF are contesting separately and both the parties were engaged in bitter campaign with usage of many unparliamentary words by the leaders of the two forces. BJP is running its first state government in Assam in alliance with the BPF and Asom Gana Parishad (AGP).
United People’s Party Liberal (UPPL) is another strong outfit apart from BPF and BJP. Its chief Pramod Boro, who joined the party from All Bodo Students Union (ABSU), is touted to be a strong contender for the post of Chief Executive Member, the head of BTC. Other parties like Gana Suraksha Party (GSP), Congress- AIUDF alliance and scores of independent candidates are also claiming to get voters sympathy and support.