Karbi council polls: BJP sure of win despite violence, repolling in 2 booths

Guwahati: The Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council (KAAC) election on Wednesday recorded a voter turnout of 79%.

With political parties such as the BJP, Congress, newly formed All Party Hills Leaders Conference (APHLC), Autonomous State Demand Committee (ASDC) and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in the fray, the KAAC election witnessed a multi-cornered contest. The polling that began at 7.30 am, concluded at 4.30 pm.

Meanwhile, violence erupted at two polling booths in Duar Amla constituency in West Karbi Anglong during polling.

According to reports, ballot boxes were destroyed and papers were reportedly set on fire by miscreants. Mob also attempted to attack security personnel deployed at the police centre. Following this, the police personnel resorted to blank firing to disperse the mob.

One of the protesters said, “We consider this polling as illegal. We won’t allow the election commission to take away these ballot boxes from the polling station of Duar Amla constituency. We demand re-election or else we won’t allow the polling to continue. We have burnt the ballot papers. Assam Police is responsible for this. The seal was missing from certain ballot boxes and after half-an- hour it was found with the police.”

Earlier, in the morning, special DGP Assam Police GP Singh supervised the police duty deployment at poll-bound Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council (KAAC). GP Singh also took to Twitter saying, “District nestled in the lap of nature, Karbi Anglong goes to poll for KAAC elections. Supervised the duty deployment of Karbi Anglong police.”

Assam State Election Commissioner Alok Kumar announced on Thursday that re-polling at two polling booths under Duar Amla council constituency in West Karbi Anglong district will be held on June 10 and said that an FIR will also be lodged related to the violence.

In another incident of violence on the eve of election, one person was injured at Socheng Dhenta ahead of elections for the KAAC. According to reports, violence broke out at 17 Rongbongway in Socheng Dhenta in Karbi Anglong over allegations of distribution of cash to votes.

Allegations were levelled against the ruling party for distributing money for votes ahead of KAAC elections. Some unidentified people allegedly distributed money on behalf of BJP candidate Kache Rongpipi.

The KAAC (earlier called the Mikir Hills District Council), headquartered at Diphu, was formed in 1952. Under its jurisdiction, there are two districts of Karbi Anglong and West Karbi Anglong, covering four Assembly seats and one parliamentary constituency of Diphu.

The polling was conducted through ballot papers, and vote counting will be on June 12.

A total of 7,03,298 voters in the constituencies are spread across two districts and one sub-division, including 3,55,503 men, 3,47,790 women and five third gender.

Along with KAAC polling, the by-election to Koklabari constituency in Baksa district of the Bodoland Territorial Council was also held on Wednesday and recorded 32 per cent voter turnout so far. The by-poll was necessitated after UPPL president Pramod Boro won both Goibari and Koklabari seats in the 2020 BTC polls and vacated the Koklabari constituency.

The election for the KAAC is being held for the first time after signing of a peace agreement with five insurgent groups of Karbi Anglong district in September 2021, the third such accord inked with militants of the hill district, with the earlier two signed in 1995 and 2011.

With the signing of the ‘Karbi Anglong Agreement’ last year, a ‘Special Development Package’ of Rs 1,000 crore, spread over five years, for the development of the Karbi areas was announced.

On the last day of campaigning, Himanta Biswa Sarma said that the KAAC was a stepping stone to the Diphu Lok Sabha constituency. “If you win KAAC, you win Diphu,” Sarma said, adding, “It was also important to connect with our Karbi brothers.”

Sarma said, “The Congress ruled KAAC from 2001 to 2015, but after the BJP formed its first government in Assam in 2016, most of the council’s executive members (EMs), including chief executive member (CEM) Tuliram Ronghang, defected to the ruling party.”

“When the BJP won 24 of the 26 seats in the 2017 KAAC elections, it had already been ruling the council for almost a year. BJP is poised to form the council again since the party puts its whole strength behind the candidates.”

The Chief minister addressed 18 political rallies in 3 days with lots of promises, against many of which the opposition levelled allegations of Model Code of Conduct (MCC) violation.

Talking to EastMojo the sitting Chief Executive Member (CEM) of KAAC Tuliram Ronghang said, ‘I am confident that BJP will form the council with record number of seats and margin since the people of Karbi Anglong have voted for a Triple Engine Government.”

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