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Polling for the by-elections to the four Assam Assembly constituencies – Rangapara, Sonari, Ratabari and Jania – began at 7 am on Monday.

Voting will end at 5 pm.

The by-election will decide the fate of 20 contestants by 6,78,898 voters, including 3,27,803 female and one third gender.

The Election Commission has set up 830 polling stations — 202 in Ratabari, 229 in Jania, 197 in Rangapara and 202 in Sonari.

The bypolls were necessitated with two sitting BJP MLAs and ministers Pallab Lochan Das (Rangapara) and Tapan Gogoi (Sonari), Deputy Speaker Kripanath Mallah (Ratabari) and Congress MLA Abdul Khaleque (Jania) elected to the Lok Sabha.

In Rangapara, five candidates are in the fray with the contest likely to be direct between Rajen Bortakur of BJP and Kartik Kurmi of Congress while the other candidates are Royal Soreng of CPI-M), Sanjit Rajbangshi of SUCI (Communist) and Arup Kumar Chowdhury of the Bharatiya Gana Parishad.

In Sonari, there will be a direct contest between the two candidates in fray – BJP’s Nabanita Handique and Sushil Kumar Suri of Congress.

In Ratabari there are four candidates but the fight is likely to be straight between Bijoy Malakar of BJP and Keshab Prasad Rajak of Congress, while Birendra Ravidas (SUCI-Communist) and Parikhit Roy (Independent) are also in the fray.

Jania has the highest of nine candidates in the poll arena with the contest likely to be triangular among actor-politician Towfiqur Rahman (BJP), Samsul Hoque (INC) and Rafiqul Islam (AIUDF).

The others are Chand Mahmud (NPP), Faruk Khan (AAP), Rustom Ali (CPI-M), Abdul Jalil Talukdar (Ind), Rafikul Islam (Democratic Party of India) and Subhash Sutradhar (Ind).

Four crorepatis, including two from the tea tribe, are fighting the election.

While two crorepatis — Rajen Borthakur (BJP) and Kartik Kurmi (Congress) — are fighting it out for Rangapara constituency, two others, Sushil Kumar Suri (Congress) and Nabanita Handique (BJP), are in the fray in Sonari.

BJP’s Sonari candidate, Nabanita Handique, is the only woman candidate in the by-poll.

Earlier on Sunday, polling officials with EVMs and VVPATs moved to the 830 polling stations across the four constituencies.

Assam chief electoral officer Mukesh Sahu on Sunday appealed to all the voters to exercise their franchise to strengthen the spirit of democracy.

“We appeal to everyone to cast their votes,” said Sahu.

Assam Government has declared October 21 as public holiday under the Negotiable Instruments (NI) Act in the four constituencies to facilitate voting.

Results of the by-election will be announced on Thursday, the election office added.

Campaigning for the by-polls, which ended on Saturday, witnessed all state party leaders campaigning in all the four consitituencies.

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