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Assam, Tripura kick off polls; Gogoi, CPI-M deny ‘Modi wave’

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By EMN Updated: Apr 07, 2014 11:03 pm
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IANS
Guwahati/Agartala, April 7

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]housands of people Monday voted in parts of Assam and Tripura, marking the start of India’s staggered parliamentary elections. Chief Ministers Tarun Gogoi and Manik Sarkar asserted there was no “Modi wave” in their states.
Officials reported brisk polling in five of the 14 Lok Sabha constituencies in Congress-ruled Assam and one of the two in Marxist-ruled Tripura where the election was held. Voting for only these six Lok Sabha seats, out of a total 543 in the country, was held Monday.
Over 63 percent of voters cast their ballot till 3 p.m. Monday in Assam, the state’s chief electoral officer said. An estimated 6.4 million people were eligible to vote for the five seats.As balloting began at 7 a.m., people queued up at polling stations in Tezpur, Jorhat, Kaliabor, Dibrugarh and Lakhimpur. Polling was briefly delayed in a few of the 8,588 booths due to technical snags in the electronic voting machines (EVMs).
A total of 51 candidates are in the fray in Assam’s first phase of polling. Three constituencies will go to the polls April 12 and the remaining six April 24.
Thirteen candidates each are contesting in Kaliabor and Lakhimpur, 10 in Jorhat, nine in Tezpur and six in Dibrugarh.
Prominent candidates whose electoral fate will be decided Monday include the chief minister’s son Gourav Gogoi, outgoing Congress MP Bijoy Krishna Handique, BJP state president Sarbananda Sonowal, and union ministers Ranee Narah and Paban Singh Ghatowar. In Tripura, around 83 percent of the electorate cast their votes till 5 p.m. Monday in Tripura West constituency, as polling was held for one of the two seats in the Left-ruled state, an official said.
“Long queues of people were seen in most of the 1,605 polling stations as voting began at 7 a.m. Clear sky with excellent weather encouraged voters to come to the polling booths early,” Tripura Chief Electoral Officer Ashutosh Jindal told IANS.
Here too, voting was delayed for a while in some polling booths due to technical snags in the EVMs but engineers either replaced or rectified the machines, he said.
Polling in the tribal reserved Tripura East constituency will be held April 12.
Some 1.2 million voters were eligible to vote Monday to pick a Lok Sabha member from among 13 candidates. Almost all of them are first-time contenders.
The main battle is between the CPI-M’s Sankar Prasad Datta and Arunoday Saha of the Congress. BJP state president Sudhindra Chandra Dasgupta and Trinamool Congress’ state chief Ratan Chakraborty are also in the race.
In Agartala, Chief Minister Manik Sarkar said there was no “Modi wave” in India, referring to the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.
“Where is the Modi wave? There is no Modi wave not only in Tripura but also in the entire country. The corporate media has created this so-called wave,” Sarkar said after voting in Agartala.
Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi spoke on similar lines in Jorhat after casting his vote: “Modi magic will not work here. It is Tarun Gogoi’s magic that will work here.”
He said the Congress would win all five seats for which votes were cast Monday. He told the media: “We earlier had problems like insurgency and lack of development (in Assam). The performance of my government is better than Gujarat’s in many aspects.”
In Assam, 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.

Over 83% voters cast vote in Tripura

[dropcap]O[/dropcap]ver 83 percent of the 1.2 million electorate Monday cast their ballot as polling was held in one of the two Lok Sabha constituencies in the Left-ruled Tripura, an official said.
No untoward incident was reported as balloting took place in West Tripura constituency, police and election officials said. “Polling was absolutely peaceful,” an officer added.
“Around 83 percent of 12.46 lakh voters cast their votes when the last reports were received here at 5 p.m. The polling percentage may increase after the final reports come here from all four districts,” Tripura Chief Electoral Officer Ashutosh Jindal told IANS.
In the last Lok Sabha polls in 2009, the voter turnout was 84.45 percent and in 2004 it was 67.39 percent across Tripura.
Jindal said people were still waiting in queues at many polling stations though the 10-hour-long balloting officially ended at 5 p.m.
He said no major complaint of wrongdoing was received from any political parties.
“Dressed in colourful attires, people were seen standing in long queues at most of the 1,605 polling stations as soon as voting began at 7 a.m. Clear sky with excellent weather encouraged voters to come to the polling booths early,” Jindal added.
“First-time voters and women were enthusiastic after casting their vote,” the official said, quoting reports from the districts.
“In some booths, due to technical snags in electronic voting machines (EVMs), voting was delayed for a while, but engineers either replaced or rectified the EVMs at once and balloting started as usual,” he said.
Polling in the tribal reserved Tripura East constituency will be held April 12.
In 2009, CPI-M’s Khagen Das defeated Sudip Roy Barman of the Congress.
This time, CPI-M’s trade union leader Sankar Prasad Datta, Congress’s Arunoday Saha, BJP state president Sudhindra Chandra Dasgupta, Trinamool Congress’s state chief Ratan Chakraborty, Tripura Pragatishil Gramin Congress president Subal Bhowmik, and Aam Aadmi Party’s Salil Saha are among the aspirants.
The Left has won from West Tripura 11 times since the first Lok Sabha elections of 1952 and the Congress four times.
The ruling CPI-M this time dropped both its sitting members – Das and Bajuban Reang (Tripura East). Reang has won the seat a record seven times since 1980.
The CPI-M is focusing on the development work it has done in Tripura, while attacking the Congress-led union government for poor governance, price-rise and corruption in the country.
The opposition is focussing on the Left’s misgovernance, unemployment and rising crimes against women.

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By EMN Updated: Apr 07, 2014 11:03:09 pm