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First phase of BTC polls today

By Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, Dec 6 - The first phase of the polls to the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) that administers the Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR) covering the four districts of Udalguri, Kokrajhar, Baksa and Chirang will be held tomorrow. The run-up to the election witnessed hectic politicking by the major parties and it is expected to be a keenly-contested multi-cornered one. The first phase of the polls will be held in Udalguri and Baksa districts, which have 10 and 11 seats respectively. The total number of candidates in fray is 132 � the break up being 60 for Udalguri and 72 for Baksa. Polling will begin at 7.30 am.

On December 10, polls will be held in 19 constituencies under Kokrajhar and Chirang districts in the second phase. Repolling, if any, will be held on December 11. A total of 109 candidates are contesting in the second phase. Counting of votes will be held on December 12. State Election Commissioner Alok Kumar told The Assam Tribune that the polls would be peaceful with large-scale participation and that matching security arrangements had been made for the polls.

�The pre-poll days saw intense and competitive campaign from the political parties � much in the line of the Assembly elections � and this we believe has set the tone, arousing the electorate�s interest, enthusiasm and expectations. We expect to have a bigger turnout than the previous polls. Foolproof security has been put in place and we expect the polls to be peaceful � and free and fair. The polls will be conducted in strict adherence to COVID-19 protocols,� he said.

Security has been tightened across the BTR, particularly in view of the repeated seizure of weapons and explosives since more than a month now.

For the two-phase polls, a total of 3,146 polling stations have been set up across the BTR. Of the total 23,82,036 electors, male voters number 12,03,008 and female voters 11,79,020 besides eight �third gender� voters.

The BTC polls were earlier scheduled for April but had to be deferred in view of the COVID-19 pandemic. The area has been placed under Governor�s Rule since the term of the BTC expired on April 27.

Since its formation in 2003, BTC had been governed by the Hagrama Mohilary-led BPF which is a partner in the ruling coalition Government in Assam headed by BJP. The AGP is the third partner in the alliance. In a dramatic twist, the sudden souring of relations between the BJP and the BPF has resulted in both contesting the polls with bitter rivalry. The rise of former ABSU president Promod Boro�s UPPL and Naba Sarania�s Gana Suraksha Party will add to the contest.

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