The stage is set for the byelection to the Majuli assembly constituency in Assam on Monday which will decide the fate of three candidates in the fray. An estimated electorate of 1,33,227 is eligible to exercise their franchise in the byelection.
The candidates in the fray are the ruling BJP candidate Bhuban Gam, the opposition’s joint nominee Chittaranjan Basumatary of the Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP) and Bhaity Richong of the SUCI(C). High pitched campaigning was witnessed with Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma visiting the world’s largest river island twice to seek votes for the party candidate while opposition leaders including Assam Congress President Bhupen Bora, Raijor Dal president Akhil Gogoi and AJP President Lurinjyoti Gogoi canvassing for Basumatary.
The Congress had decided not to contest but to leave the seat for AJP in a bid to unite the anti-BJP forces. The election to the constituency was necessitated following the resignation of Union Minister for Shipping, Ports and Aysuh Sarbananda Sonowal who was elected unopposed to the Rajya Sabha on September 27.
The former Chief Minister was elected to the state legislative assembly from Majuli constituency for two consecutive terms in 2016 and 2021. Meanwhile, the office of the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), Assam has completed all arrangements for conducting polls in a free, fair, safe and peaceful manner and election observers have been appointed to keep a strict vigil on law and order, expenditure and to strictly enforce COVID protocols in the polling stations, an official said.
As a major push for conducting free and fair elections, live monitoring and webcasting have been arranged in all the 203 polling stations of the constituency, of which 164 are main and 39 are auxiliary polling stations while 812 polling personnel have been deployed for election duty. Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) have been deployed at each polling station for security measures and to ensure a conducive atmosphere for the smooth conduct of polls.
All possible precautionary measures have been taken to ensure that all polling stations follow COVID-19 safety protocols strictly for the safety of the voters and the election officials. Each polling station will be sanitized and facilities of thermal scanning, hand sanitizers, face masks are also made available at the polling stations. Out of the total electorate of 1,33,227 in the constituency, 67,819 are male and 65,408 female. Besides, there are also 400 service voters while 2,965 voters are between the age group of 18-19 years age, 1,340 above 80 years of age and 400 voters in the PwD category.
The option of postal ballot facility has been extended to senior citizens above the age of 80 years, PwDs, COVID-19 suspect or affected persons, in addition to the persons employed in essential services. Assured Minimum Facilities (AMF) like drinking water, waiting shed, toilet, adequate arrangement for lighting, wheelchairs for PwD voters are available at all the polling stations. Arrangements like transport facility for elderly people, assistance from volunteers to PwDs and senior citizens are arranged at the polling stations. Meanwhile, dry day has been declared on both polling and counting days for the byelections and the state government has declared a paid holiday within the jurisdiction of Majuli (Scheduled Tribe) constituency on March seven to enable all voters to exercise their franchise.