Guwahati, May 2 (Indus Prism) The counting of votes for 126 assembly sets in Assam for which polling was held in three phases began on Sunday in 34 districts amid tight security measures and all Covid-19 Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), officials said.
Assam Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Nitin Khade said counting of votes are being held in 50 Election Districts (34 administrative districts) and there are three tiers of security put in place in and around the counting centres and adjoining areas.
“To maintain Covid protocols and guidelines issued by the Election Commission, numbers of counting halls have been increased by 131 per cent — from 143 in 2016 assembly election to 331 this time,” the CEO said.
According to the election officials, around 82.4 per cent of the 2, 33,74,087-strong electorate including 1,15,50,403 women cast their votes in the three phase election to the 126-member Assam Assembly.This year’s voting percentage is 2.59 per cent less than in the 2016 elections, where 84.63 per cent of the 1,99,90,755-strong electorate had exercised their franchise.
According to the CEO, Rapid Antigen Test has been made mandatory for candidates, counting agents and counting personnel and media personnel involved in the Counting process.
Face shields, masks, sanitizer and also PPE kit are available in the counting hall. Everyone entering the counting venue will have to undergo thermal screening, wear face masks and face shields.
Khade said that to maintain the Covid SOPs, counting rounds would also increase this time, due to several factors including large number of 1,50,033 postal ballots received (against only 29,173 last time), counting of VVPAT slips and restricted number of counting tables despite considerable increase in the number of counting halls.
“Due to these factors, counting of votes would take more time compared to earlier elections. The number of rounds would be varying from minimum around 10 rounds to around 33 rounds for each assembly constituency, depending on the number of polling stations and counting tables,” the official said.
In all, 946 candidates including 74 female candidates of different political parties including Bharatiya Janata Party and Congress contested the elections.
Sunday’s polling outcome would decide the electoral fate of Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal (Majuli), BJP’s northeast region points man and Finance, Health, Education Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma (Jalukbari), Assembly Speaker Hitendra Nath Goswami (Jorhat), ruling BJP’s state President Ranjeet Kumar Dass (Patacharkuchi), Congress President Ripun Bora (Gohpur), party’s Legislature Party leader Debabrata Saikia (Nazira), Asom Gana Parishad chief and Minister Atul Bora (Bokakhat), jailed Raijor Dal President and prominent peasant leader Akhil Gogoi (Sibsagar) and Assam Jatiya Parishad President Lurinjyoti Gogoi (Duliajan).