Stage set for counting of votes in Assam

Guwahati, Jun 3 (PTI) The stage is set for counting of votes for Assam’s 14 Lok Sabha seats to decide the fate of 143 candidates, including Union minister Sarbananda Sonowal and Lok Sabha deputy leader of opposition Gaurav Gogoi.

Counting will start from 8 am on Tuesday in 152 halls across 52 centres in the state, and adequate security arrangements have been put in place, an election official said.

The state’s 13 districts are bearing the brunt of floods, and the respective district authorities have been directed to take suitable measures to ensure smooth counting of votes.

The state election department is also coordinating with the Assam Power Distribution Company Ltd (APDCL) and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) for uninterrupted power and internet connectivity.

A total of 152 rooms will be operational, equipped with 1,941 counting tables for both postal ballots and EVMs, while 5,823 personnel and 64 general observers will be involved in the exercise.

Polling was held in three phases on April 19, April 26 and May 7 for Dibrugarh, Jorhat, Kaziranga, Sonitpur, Lakhimpur, Nagaon, Diphu (ST), Darrang-Udalguri, Karinganj, Silchar (SC), Barpeta, Kokrajhar, Dhubri and Guwahati seats.

The NDA alliance in the state contested in all the 14 seats with the BJP in 11 seats, while its coalition partners – the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) – contested in two seats and the United Peoples’ Party Liberal (UPPL) in one.

The Congress, a constituent of the 16-party United Opposition Forum Assam (UOFA), contested in 13 seats and left the Dibrugarh seat for the Assam Jatiya Parishad, while the AIUDF contested in three and the AAP in two.

Besides Sonowal and Gogoi, the other prominent contestants are sitting BJP MPs Topon Gogoi, Pradan Barua, Dilip Saikia, Kripanath Malla, BJP’s Rajya Sabha MP Kamakhya Tasa, Assam minister Parimal Suklabaidya and party MLA Ranjit Dutta.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, who had been campaigning for NDA nominees in different parts of the country, is back in the city for the poll results.

“The chief minister and our state party president Bhabesh Kalita will be at the Vajpayee Bhawan here tomorrow,” BJP spokesperson Dewan Dhruba Jyoti Maral said.

The Congress has also made arrangements at its state headquarters Rajiv Bhawan here, party spokesperson Bedabrata Bora said.

“The ‘war room’ is fully prepared for counting day. AICC has issued instructions and we are following those,” he said.

The AICC has also set up two toll-free numbers for registering complaints related to counting.