Panel chief to verify charges

Guwahati/Dhubri, Feb. 5: Assam is set for the second of its three-phase panchayat elections tomorrow amidst rising political temperature with the state BJP accusing the state election commission of acting in a partisan manner.

State BJP president Sarbananda Sonowal alleged that despite Opposition parties lodging several complaints of violation of the poll code of conduct, rigging and violence against the ruling Congress, the commission had not taken prompt and appropriate action. "It seems the commission is not functioning in an impartial manner," he said.

State election commissioner Biren Dutta subtly hit back by asking how many complaints had been lodged with the commission and when were these complaints filed.

"They had made a few suggestions about how to go about things. There was no complaint. Where is the scope to manipulate? There has to be a reason to manipulate. The SEC does not get a second term!" Dutta said half in jest. He also said he would initiate action only after verifying the allegations so as not to get caught on the wrong foot.

The BJP's allegations come a day after the AGP moved the commission, demanding measures to ensure free and fair panchayat polls. AGP president Prafulla Kumar Mahanta had yesterday alleged that the Congress-led government had used the state administrative machinery to rig the polls in the first phase on January 30 and would also try to manipulate the counting process. The first phase had seen a turnout of around 74 per cent.

As many as 30.41 lakh voters will exercise their franchise in the second phase, which, Dutta hoped, would be as peaceful as the first. Voting will be held in 6,699 polling stations for the posts of 5,980 gaon panchayat members, 598 gaon panchayat presidents, 598 anchalik panchayat members and 121 zilla parishad members in nine districts, including Dibrugarh, Sonitpur, Darrang, Nalbari, Barpeta, Bongaigaon, Kamrup, Kamrup (metro) and Morigaon.

The second phase has seen all the leading parties such as the Congress, the AIUDF, the BJP and the AGP go all out to woo voters and it will only intensify for the third phase to be held on February 12.

Chief minister Tarun Gogoi has himself campaigned aggressively in the second round. Health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, who has been keeping a low profile since his fallout with Gogoi, parliamentary secretary Bhupen Kumar Borah, forest minister Rakibul Hussain, senior legislator Bhumidhar Barman and PCC president Bhubaneswar Kalita have been the other notable campaigners for the Congress in this round.

The campaign for this phase saw a political activist being killed in Sonitpur district and an assault on police in Nagaon district.

Dutta said a polling official, who had some health problems, died in Morigaon district today while receiving polling material.

Gogoi said at a poll rally in Bangalipara near Bilasipara town in Dhubri district today that the AIUDF cannot take up any development or do good for the people.

"Ajmal comes to me with khejur (dates) to plead for a bridge from Dhubri to Phulbari but he gives only sour mangoes to voters. Only the Congress is the real saviour of minority people and is doing a lot of work for their all-round development and the country. Ajmal is only exploiting the community."

Gogoi also addressed a meeting at Fakirganj in Dhubri district.

"The second phase will mainly see a contest between the Congress and its rebels and the Congress and the AIUDF," a Congressman said.

The Congress is sure of winning around 70 per cent of the seats as is AIUDF, a major challenger in lower Assam.

Matches

MORE TOP STORIES TODAY

Royal test for Kings

Royal test for Kings

Preview — Clash of philosophies between Australia-centric teams More »

Duminy steals first win for Delhi

Duminy steals first win for Delhi

Furious fifties by Duminy and Dinesh Karthik end a long losing streak for the Daredevils. More »

AB, Parthiv seal Bangalore's second win

AB, Parthiv seal Bangalore's second win

Royal Challengers overcame a stutter to cruise to the small target they were set by Mumbai Indians. More »

‘Felt like helpless minority’

‘Felt like helpless minority’

Former BCCI treasurer Ajay Shirke says emotions got the better of the Srinivasan and he tried to oversimplify things by calling Meiyappan an “enthusia… More »

Glenn Maxwell carves his parallel universe

Glenn Maxwell carves his parallel universe

Glenn Maxwell seems to project an icy disdain when at the crease. Match situations rarely faze him and the bubble in which he plays excludes everyone … More »

No way back for Pietersen: ECB

No way back for Pietersen: ECB

Kevin Pietersen's hopes of reviving his international career appeared to end Saturday when ECB managing director Paul Downton said there was 'no way back'… More »

Srinivasan can attend BCCI meeting

Srinivasan can attend BCCI meeting

His status as president of TNCA makes him eligible to attend the Working Committee meeting on Sunday. More »

The world record that nearly wasn't

The world record that nearly wasn't

Twenty years ago this week, Brian Lara became Test cricket's highest scorer, but he almost didn't make it. More »

Moores gets second stint as England coach

Moores gets second stint as England coach

In a two-year spell from 2007 to 2009, the 51-year-old Moores led England in seven Test series. More »

BCCI is not anybody’s property — Dalmiya

BCCI is not anybody’s property — Dalmiya

Dalmiya feels that Srinivasan’s ‘power hungry’ attitude isn’t helping matters. More »

Tough for bowlers: Saeed Ajmal

Tough for bowlers: Saeed Ajmal

The 36-year-old believes the T20 format and rule changes in 50-over matches have made a real difference. More »

Bangladesh senior players to see shrink

Bangladesh senior players to see shrink

Bangladesh's senior players will have three sessions with a psychological skill development coach later this month More »

KP ridicules idea of day-night Tests

KP ridicules idea of day-night Tests

Kevin Pietersen has ridiculed the idea of day-night Test cricket, saying the game would be so different to proper Test cricket that we will need a whole… More »

Rajasthan edge low-scoring thriller

Rajasthan edge low-scoring thriller

The bowlers restricted Hyderabad to 133 for 6 before Rahane and Binny took Rajasthan over the line. More »

BCCI members want independent probe

BCCI members want independent probe

The board members are realising after the Supreme Court's observations that something has to be done — IS Bindra More »

Maxwell blitz takes Punjab home

Maxwell blitz takes Punjab home

The Kings XI batsman blasted a 43-ball 95 to help his team pull off a massive chase against Chennai Super Kings. More »

'BCCI lacks leaders to take on Srini'

'BCCI lacks leaders to take on Srini'

Two former BCCI presidents, Shashank Manohar and Jagmohan Dalmiya, have reacted strongly to the news of the BCCI calling an emergent meeting on Sunday… More »

Delhi look for first points against confident Kolkata

Delhi look for first points against confident Kolkata

Preview — The threat of Sunil Narine looms large again. More »

Bangalore vs Mumbai: A battle of the big-hitters

Bangalore vs Mumbai: A battle of the big-hitters

Preview — Given the firepower in both line-ups, Dubai crowd may see another high-scorer More »

Yuvraj tees off to Sharjah's delight

Yuvraj tees off to Sharjah's delight

Yuvraj Singh was hardly convincing to begin with against Delhi, but a big dose of crowd support and a helping of poor bowling meant he had the opportunity… More »

Stressed Trott stands down again

Stressed Trott stands down again

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) on Friday confirmed that batsman Jonathan Trott is to take another break from all cricket with immediate eff… More »

PCB starts another coach hunt

PCB starts another coach hunt

The PCB has decided to not extend the contracts of head coach Moin Khan, fielding coach Shoaib Mohammad and batting consultant Zaheer Abbas, and has invited… More »

Fiery star Stokes bids to curb his temper

Fiery star Stokes bids to curb his temper

England all-rounder Ben Stokes admits he must keep his anger under control if he is to end his international exile. More »

Bangalore's arsenal blazes to victory

Bangalore's arsenal blazes to victory

Yuvraj Singh was back to his best in his first match for Royal Challengers Bangalore. More »