Voters queue up to cast their votes during first phase of Assam polls in Sonitpur on Saturday. [Photo/PIB]
Voters queue up to cast their votes during first phase of Assam polls in Sonitpur on Saturday. [Photo/PIB]

First Phase elections conducted successfully in 77 Assembly constituencies in WB, Assam

ANI | Updated: Mar 27, 2021 23:32 IST

New Delhi [India], March 27 (ANI): Stating that great emphasis was laid on ensuring a transparent and vigilant mechanism for inducement and intimidation free elections, the Election Commission (EC) on Saturday said that the first phase of Assam and West Bengal Assembly elections was conducted successfully across 21825 polling stations spread over 77 Assembly constituencies on Saturday.
According to the EC, the first phase of elections was conducted for 30 Assembly constituencies in West Bengal. Nearly 74 lakh electorates across 10,288 polling stations are registered to exercise their franchise in this phase.
It further stated that voting was held in 47 Assembly constituencies of Assam with a total of 81lakh electorates registered across 11,537 polling stations, adding that the number of polling stations has increased in view of the fact that the number of voters per polling station has been reduced from 1500 to 1000 keeping social distancing norms in view.
As a major push in conducting free and fair elections, live monitoring and webcasting mechanism for more than 50 per cent of polling stations including critical and vulnerable polling booths was put in place to ensure a safe and secure atmosphere in polling areas. Webcasting arrangements were put in place for 5392 polling stations in West Bengal and 5039 polling stations in Assam, said EC.
As an initiative towards inclusive and accessible elections, the option of postal ballot facility has been extended to persons with disabilities (PWDs), senior citizens above the age of 80 years, COVID-19 suspect or affected persons and persons employed in essential services. The Observers were specifically asked to oversee arrangements for the facilitation of these voters.
For handholding and for the guidance of the poll going states the Commission also directed special observers to have an additional role in supervising deployment of forces and their randomization for poll duties.
All the polling stations were directed to follow COVID-19 Safety protocols. Accordingly, it was ensured that the polling stations were sanitised one day prior to poll and the facility of thermal scanning, hand sanitisers, face masks were also made available at the Polling Stations. Proper arrangements for social distancing were put in place. Nodal Health Officers have been designated for State, district and Assembly Constituencies to oversee COVID-19 related arrangements and preventive measures during the entire electoral process.
As per EC, all the 21825 polling stations of phase-1 in Assam and West Bengal, were equipped with Assured Minimum Facilities (AMF) of drinking water, waiting shed, toilet with water facility, adequate arrangements for lighting, the ramp of the appropriate gradient for a wheelchair for PwD electors and a standard voting compartment etc were made available at all the polling stations. All arrangements like transport facility, volunteers assisting persons with disability and senior citizens were also made available, it said.

EC further informed that during the first phase of elections, a total of 10288 Ballot Units (BUs), 10288 Control Units (CUs) and 10288 VVPATs were used in West Bengal and 11,537 Ballot Units, 11,537 Control Units and 11,537 VVPATs were used in Assam.
As per standard procedure all these EVMs and VVPATs had already undergone First Level Checking (FLC), Randomisation, and Commissioning in the presence of Political Parties/Candidates agents. During FLC and during commissioning, each of these EVMs and VVPATs had undergone mock polls, said EC.
Today before the start of the poll each of the EVMs and VVPATs again underwent a mock poll in the presence of polling agents of the candidates with a minimum of 50 votes cast on each, as per the standard procedure and at the end of the mock poll, the result of EVM was matched with the result of VVPAT slips and shown to the polling agents. The nonfunctioning rate during the poll is lesser than experienced in the last few polls, it further said.
According to the EC, from the date of notification of election till the first phase, a record seizure of Rs 281.28 crore has already been achieved from both states. It further said that it has been laying specific emphasis on inducement free elections and curbing the malaise of undue money power, liquor, freebies.
It further informed that to date Rs 97.31 crore has been seized in Assam (as against a total seizure of Rs. 16.58 crore in 2016 Assembly elections) and a total of 183.97 crore in West Bengal (as against a total seizure of Rs 44.33 crore in 2016 Assembly polls).
Total 53 and 85 expenditure observers have been deployed in Assam and West Bengal Assembly elections, 2021 respectively for effective monitoring, said EC.
According to the EC, in Assam, 603 Flying Squads (FS) and 762 Static Surveillance Teams (SST) were operationalised to check the movement of cash, liquor, drugs and freebies. The figures of FS and SST deployed in West Bengal are 1137 and 1012 respectively.
It said that in Assam, six Air Intelligence Units (AIU) of the IT Department are set up at Guwahati, Dibrugarh, Jorhat, Silchar, Tezpur and Lakhimpur, while in West Bengal, three AIUs of the IT Department are set up at Kolkata, Andal in Durgapur and Bagdogra.
A total number of 167 cases of Model Code of Conduct (MCC) violations were reported through the cVIGIL app - EC's citizen-centric mobile application that empowers people to report cases of MCC violations on a real-time basis, with auto-populated details of the location that responds within 100 minutes after verification at field level - from West Bengal out of which 111 were disposed of as of 4.30 pm. Similarly, 582 cases were reported from Assam with 423 disposed of till 4.30 pm, said EC. (ANI)