Guwahati, April 11 (IANS): Voting for the second and final phase of elections in Assam proceeded peacefully with nearly 50 percent polling recorded till midday on Monday, officials said.
An official said voting began at 7 am in all the 64 Assembly constituencies on Monday. Voting will continue till 3 pm in 11,589 polling stations. Assam has 126 Assembly constituencies.
"There has been moderate to heavy polling in most places. We expect the turnout to be very high as the weather is perfect and the response so far from voters has been very encouraging," the official said. "So far polling has been going on peacefully," he added.
An estimated 9.7 million voters will decide the fate of 496 candidates in the fray.
Among the prominent candidates whose fate would be sealed on Monday are Chandra Mohan Patowary, president of the main Opposition Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), two-time former Chief Minister and AGP senior Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, and Congress ministers Himanta Biswa Sarma and Rockybul Hussain. There are 41 women candidates.
The Congress is confident of retaining power. "We are confident that people will vote for good governance, stability and peace," Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said.
"I am happy at the very encouraging turnout," said Sarma, the health minister and Congress candidate from Jalukbari in Guwahati.
The opposition too is equally optimistic.
"The people of Assam are looking for a change," Patowary said after casting his vote.
The first phase of polling April 11 sealed the fate of 485 candidates with an estimated 73 percent polling recorded in 62 assembly seats.
The results will be declared May 13.
More than 40,000 police and paramilitary troopers were deployed in various places, with the authorities not taking any chances despite a general lull on the insurgency front.