More than 63 per cent voters have exercised their franchise till 3 pm during the second phase of the Assam Assembly elections on Thursday.

Polling was being held in 39 constituencies covering 13 districts amid tight security.

The election officials said that no incident of violence was reported so far from the 13 districts where the voting was underway.

In a few polling stations, voting was halted for some time due to technical snags in the Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) but it started soon after the machines were rectified.

Men, women and first-time voters in large numbers queued up in front of the polling stations well before the voting started at 7 a.m.

Polling will continue till 6 p.m as the Election Commission extended the time by an hour in view of the Covid-19 induced situation.

Assam Chief Electoral Officer Nitin Khade said that 73,44,631 voters, including 36,09,959 women, are eligible to cast their votes across 10,592 polling stations.

There are a total of 556 women-manned polling stations.

Around 31,000 Central Armed Police Force personnel, along with thousands of state security force personnel, have been deployed to maintain law and order during this phase in which 42,368 polling personnel are engaged.

In Thursday’s polling, the electoral fate of 345 candidates, including 26 women aspirants, will be decided.

In the second phase, the political fate of several ministers including Fisheries, Excise, Environment and Forest Minister Parimal Suklabaidya, Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Piyush Hazarika, state Irrigation Minister Bhabesh Kalita and Deputy Speaker Aminul Haque Laskar will be decided.

Suklabaidya is contesting from the Dholai seat for the seventh time on a BJP ticket, Hazarika from Jagiroad and Kalita from Rangia.

Former Congress Minister Gautam Roy is contesting from Katigorah on a BJP ticket, while former Deputy Speaker Dilip Kumar Paul, who resigned from the party after he was denied ticket and was subsequently expelled, is contesting as an Independent from the Silchar constituency.

Of the 39 seats, 15 fall in southern Assam’s Barak Valley region, comprising three districts — Cachar, Karimganj and Hailakhandhi — mostly dominated by Bengali-speaking people.

In 2016, the BJP had bagged eight of these, the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) four and Congress three.

Covid-19 protocols for the voters, including social distancing and thermal screening are being maintained.

Election officials said that to avoid crowding, the number of voters for every booth has been brought down to a maximum of 1,000.

As a result, the number of polling booths has been augmented by 34.71 per cent to 33,530 in the entire state from 24,890 in 2016.

To avoid direct contact with the EVM, every elector is being given hand gloves.

Of the three-phased 126-member Assam Assembly election, the third and final phase would be held in 40 seats on April 6.

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