Guwahati: Around 62% turnout has been recorded till 3 pm in the final phase of panchayat polls in Assam held in 10 districts on Sunday.

Despite Assam State Election Commission claims of a peaceful poll, several sporadic incidents of violence and polling anomalies have surfaced in many places.

Voters in many places enraged after there were incidents of mismatch of party symbols in ballot papers and the missing of voters’ names from the electoral rolls.

At least four people were injured in a group clash between the supporters of Congress and the BJP at Poylamuli Lower Primary School polling booth.

Polling is being held in Nalbari, Barpeta, Bongaigaon, Dhubri, South Salmara, Goalpara, Cachar, Hailakandi, Karimganj and Hojai to elect 169 zila parishad members, 895 anchalik panchayat member, 895 gram panchayats presidents and 8,950 gram panchayat members from among a total of 35,056 contestants. 

Voters queued up in front of 9428 polling booths in 10 districts of the since 7 am to cast their votes.

Assam State Election Commissioner HN Bora said that voters are still queued up in many places and the poll percentage would likely to be increased.

“62% turnout was recorded till 3 pm in the final phase of panchayat polls and we hope that it will touch to 80%,” Bora said.

The first phase of the rural poll was held on December 5 and over 75% out of 97,45,709 voters had exercised their franchise to elect 251 zila parishad member, 1304 anchalik panchayat member, 1304 gram panchayat president, and 13,040 gram panchayat members from among 43,515 contestants.

The panchayat election in Assam is being held at a time when massive protests are going on across the state against the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2016.

This election is a litmus test for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ahead of the 2019 general elections in Assam as BJP’s ally party Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) contested this election separately after rift over the controversial Bill.

The BJP had won 7 out of 14 Lok Sabha seats in Assam in 2014 and came to power in Assam in a coalition with AGP and Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) by winning 60 seats out of 126 in 2016 Assembly elections.

The Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2016 has created a rift between the ruling BJP and AGP and both parties contested separately in the panchayat polls and both parties had criticised each other during the campaigns.

In general, the ruling party dominates in the local elections and the previous elections have revealed it, but the question arises if the BJP will able to continue the trend this time as well.

On the other hand, this election has given an opportunity to the Congress and Badaruddin Ajmal-led All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) to regain lost ground in Assam.