Gogoi, CPI-M deny ‘Modi wave’ as Assam, Tripura vote

Guwahati/Agartala, April 7: Hundreds and thousands of people voted in parts of Assam and Tripura Monday, marking the start of India’s staggered parliamentary elections even as Chief Ministers Tarun Gogoi and Manik Sarkar denied any “Modi wave” in their states.

Officials reported brisk polling in five of the 14 Lok Sabha constituencies in Congress-ruled Assam and one of the two in Marxist-ruled Tripura. Only these six seats, out of a total 543 in the country, are voting Monday.

People queued up right from the morning at most polling centres in Tezpur, Jorhat, Kaliabor, Dibrugarh and Lakhimpur constituencies in Assam where an estimated 6.4 million are eligible to vote.

A total of 51 candidates are in the fray in Assam’s first phase of polling. Three Lok Sabha constituencies in the state will go to the polls April 12 and the remaining six April 24.

In a few of the 8,588 polling stations, faulty electronic voting machines held up balloting briefly.

Thirteen candidates each are contesting in Kaliabor and Lakhimpur, 10 in Jorhat, nine in Tezpur and six in Dibrugarh.

Prominent candidates whose electoral fate will be decided Monday include chief minister’s son Gourav Gogoi, outgoing Congress MP Bijoy Krishna Handique, BJP state president Sarbananda Sonowal, and union ministers Ranee Narah and Paban Singh Ghatowar.

Voter enthusiasm was equally high in Tripura West constituency, officials said. Tripura East will vote April 12.

Some 1.2 million voters are eligible to vote Monday to pick a Lok Sabha member from among 13 candidates. Almost all of them are first-time contenders.

The main battle is between CPI-M’s Sankar Prasad Datta and Arunoday Saha of the Congress. BJP state president Sudhindra Chandra Dasgupta and Trinamool Congress’ state chief Ratan Chakraborty are also in the race.

In Agartala, Chief Minister Manik Sarkar said there was no “Modi wave” in India, referring to the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.

“Where is the Modi wave? There is no Modi wave not only in Tripura but also in the entire country. The corporate media has created this so-called wave,” Sarkar said after voting in Agartala.

Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi spoke on similar lines in Jorhat after casting his vote: “Modi magic will not work here. It is Tarun Gogoi’s magic that will work here.”

He said the Congress would win all five seats. Speaking to the media, he said: “We earlier had problems like insurgency and lack of development (in Assam). The performance of my government is better than Gujarat’s in many aspects.”

IANS