New Delhi: Despite warnings by ULFA, the first phase of Assembly elections concluded peacefully in Assam. Around 67 per cent voters exercised their franchise in 62 constituencies.

Although ULFA leader Paresh Barua had threatened to disrupt the election, the first leg of the Assembly polls ended without any violence in the state.

Deputy Election Commissioner Alok Shukla informed that around 70 per cent voting was recorded in Assam.

In the first phase of elections, people gave their mandate in upper Assam, Barak Valley, north Cachar hills district, Karbi Anglong district and Shaunitpur.

Maximum voting was registered in Dhakuakhana with 87 per cent polling. Contesting from Dhakuakhana, Sports and Cultural Affairs Minister Bharat Chandra Narah was supported by the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during the election campaign.

Total 485 candidates, including political heavyweights like Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, former Asom Gana Parishad president Brindaban Goswami and BJP state unit president Ranjit Dutta, were in the fray.

During the 15-year unrest in the state, people from small separatist groups also participated in the election. More than 35, 000 paramilitary forces were deployed in the state. Around three dozen voting booths were boycotted.

The final leg of elections, in remaining 64 constituencies, will be held on April 11. Now, the Election Commission is all set for the final phase of elections in the state.

There is a general perception that maximum votes polled in the state are in favour of the ruling government. Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi himself claims it.

Whereas, BJP stated that due to rising corruption in the state, the saffron party has brighter chance.

According to sources, the supporters of ULFA’s Arbind Rajkhova distanced themselves from polling, while the Barua group will continue its attack on the Congress.

Ten polling booths were boycotted in north Kachar hilly region, but no untoward incident was reported.

In last Assembly elections, 75.72 per cent voting was recorded and 69 per cent was registered in the Lok Sabha elections.

JPN/ Bureau