West Bengal, Assam voter turnout 78-81% as women, youth throng booths
New Delhi: Two non-BJP states West Bengal and Assam headed to the first round of Assembly polls on Monday.
Although Bharatiya Janata Party does not have a big presence in West Bengal, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah is seeking to increase seats in the state dominated by Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress. The Congress has tied up with Left Front comprising CPI(M) and other communist parties.
After the success in Lok Sabha polls where BJP cornered half of the 14 seats, BJP is trying to topple the 15-year old Congress government led by Tarun Gogoi.
"Urging all those voting in West Bengal and Assam today to vote in large numbers. Young friends in particular must exercise their franchise," Modi tweeted.
As per Election Commission schedule, Assembly polls will be held in four states--Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Assam and Kerala--and Puducherry during April 4 to May 16. The counting of all the five assembly elections will be on May 19 and the entire election process will be completed by May 21.
In Assam, the 2-phase elections will be held on April 4 and April 11.
West Bengal will have 6-phases of polls starting April 4 and April 11. The Phase-II elections will be held on April 17, Phase-III on April 21. Phase-IV on April 25, the Phase-V on April 30 and the Phase-VI on May 5.
Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry will have a single-phase election on May 16.
The terms of the five assemblies are ending in April and May.
MAMATA BLASTS CONGRESS, LEFT
In West Bengal, voting turnout was a whopping 80.9 per cent in the first phase indicating the surge of young and women voters.
The high decibel canvassing continued with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee came down heavily on the Congress leadership, accusing them of bowing their heads to CPI(M) which had once used “abusive words” against former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.
“Two senior Congress leaders from Malda and one from Murshidabad have bowed their heads to the CPI(M) which had once used abusive words against Rajivji and coined a slogan in their rallies. Are they fit to be called Congress men anymore! These leaders seem to have literally sold the Congress flag to suit their own personal interest,” the TMC supremo told a public meeting at Sujapur in Malda district without taking any names.
Banerjee also hit out at CPI(M), accusing it of “leaving behind the ideology of Marx and Lenin for a few seats”. The TMC was contesting from 12 seats in the district.
GOGOI CONFIDENT OF CONGRESS WIN
Assam saw a high turnout of 78.06 per cent of its 95,11,732 electorate in the first phase of the assembly polls held in 65 constituencies amidst tight security today.
Voting was conducted in 2,190 polling stations spread across upper Assam, two hill districts, northern bank of Brahmaputra and Barak Valley to determine the political destiny of 539 contestants, including Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and union minister and BJP chief ministerial candidate Sarbananda Sonowal.
Exuding confidence that the Congress will retain Assam for the fourth term, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said only his party has brought change for the better through development in the state, while Prime Minister Narendra Modi has "failed" to fulfill his promises.
"People want change for the better and not change for the worse. We are 100 per cent confident that people will vote for us. We brought change, we proved it and people can see it. I also want change. Who wants to remain static? We (Congress) achieved change for the better, while AGP also achieved change but for the worse. Everyone knows what was the situation (15 years ago) when AGP was in power when they failed.... There was no development then, no employment", he said.
"People can also see how much Modi fulfilled his poll promises. He is losing his popularity in whole of India. ... even in his Gujarat, Bihar and other states. They (BJP) indulge in negative propaganda and they do not want change for the better. I am not fighting against the Centre but want to instead cooperate. My fight is only against injustice," he said.
Asked how many seats he expected the Congress to win, a confident Gogoi said, "Upper Assam is our stronghold and we will do even better this time in Lower Assam". The Chief Minister cast his vote in Jorhat today during the first phase of Assam Assembly polling to decide the fate of 539 candidates in 65 of the 126 constituencies.
Sporting a Gandhi cap, Tarun Gogoi stood in the queue with other voters along with his wife Dolly Gogoi, son Gaurav Gogoi, who is an MP, and brother Deep Gogoi at the polling station in Debicharan Baruah Girls High School. (With inputs from PTI)