1 killed during Assam rural polls

People wait outside a polling booth to cast their votes during the Panchayat election, at a village in Balipara, Sonitpur District of Assam on Wednesday. PHOTO/ MANASH DAS

Around 65.5% polling was reported till 3 pm, in the first phase of panchayat elections in 16 districts, which saw public outrage against alleged anomalies. Many voters burnt ballot boxes and assaulted polling personnel as their names were missing from the electoral rolls and wrong symbols figured in ballot papers against contesting candidates.

According to the State Election Commission, 78,571 candidates are contesting 26,808 seats across 2,200 Village Panchayats. The second phase of polls will be conducted on December 9, followed by counting on December 12.

Test for BJP

Political observers in the state see the panchayat polls as a test for the ruling BJP ahead of Lok Sabha elections next year, The party is also facing criticism, including from its ally Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), over NDA’s move to pass the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016. AGP decided not to go ahead with its alliance with BJP in the panchayat polls, owing to its opposition to the bill.

The AGP said a vote for BJP would mean supporting the illegal migrants as BJP was allegedly trying to welcome the Hindu illegal migrants from neighbouring Bangladesh. 

BJP, on the other hand, claimed that it would win maximum seats due to the development works and its actions against corruption allegedly committed during Congress rule between 2006 to 2016. The ruling party said Opposition Congress and AIUDF would be ‘wiped out’ from the rural areas.

Congress charge 

The Congress lodged a complaint with Assam EC on Wednesday alleging violation of model code of conduct by Prime Minister’s Office, which announced that the Bogibeel bridge, country’s longest rail-cum-road bridge constructed over the Brahmaputra in Assam, would be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on December 25. Congress said the announcement was aimed at wooing voters.

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