The biggest democratic exercise on earth has kicked off today as voting for Lok Sabha Election 2014 begins. Here are five things you need to know about the first phase of the general elections.
An Indian election official checks an Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) prior to distribution to polling officials at Agartala, the capital of Tripura on April 6, 2014. Photo: Getty Images
1) Voting in five Lok Sabha seats in Assam and one in Tripura. The constituencies in Assam are Lakhimpur, Tezpur, Kaliabor, Jorhat and Dibrugarh. The sole constituency in Tripura is Tripura West. The number of voters in Assam to exercise their votes are 64.41 lakh and in Tripura it is 12.46 lakh.
Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi participates with his son Gaurav Gogoi in Rongali Bihu celebrations in Guwahati. Photo: Getty Images
2) A total of 51 candidates in the five constituencies of Assam. Key candidates are union ministers of state Paban Singh Ghatowar (Dibrugarh) and Ranee Narah (Lakhimpur), state BJP chief Sarbananda Sonowal (Lakhimpur), former union minister B K Handique (Jorhat) and Gourav Gogoi (Kaliabor). Gaurav Gogoi, son of Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, is the youngest among the candidates. Here’s his interview to India.com in which he stressed on the point that being from a political family should not become disqualification for him.
Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar’s CPM continues to a strong contender for the Tripura West Lok Sabha seat
3)Though there are 13 candidates for the Tripura West seat, the fight is between three main parties CPM, Congress and TMC. However the communists have held the seat for 10 times previously and strong even this time. Congress’ attempts to enter Tripura former royal Pradyot Manikya Debburman failed after his refusal to enter the electoral fight. In an interview to India.com, Debburman insisted that entering Parliament will take him away from his people.
After many years ULFA would not be a factor in the election as the surrendered leaders of the militant group is negotiating with the government of India
4) Today is also the 35th foundation day of the militant group United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) which has weakened over the years. There has been no major threat from the group towards elections. Many of its members are negotiating with the government of India after surrendering. Two former ULFA members are also fighting these elections.
5) BJP might be claiming a Modi wave across the country but in both Assam and Tripura it is the non-BJP parties like Congress and CPM are expected to perform well. BJP’s ally Assam Gono Parishad is also in the fray with former ULFA member as candidate from Lakhimpur. In a recent controversy, defective EVMs in Jorhat were detected which would register voter for BJP irrespective of the button pressed. BJP has also released its manifesto in midst of the first phase of polling.