Guwahati: The first of the two-phase Assam Assembly election began at 7 AM today amid strict security, with 65 of the state's total 126 constituencies going to the poll in which the main contenders are the ruling Congress and the BJP-AGP-BPF alliance.
An electorate of 95,11,732, including 45,95,712 women, are able to exercise their franchise in 12,190 polling booths to decide the fate of 539 candidates.
As many as 1,241 polling stations have been identified as 'critical' polling stations, 1,992 as 'hypersensitive' and 3,739 as 'sensitive'.
In all 535 companies of security forces have been deployed in the 65 constituencies. Out of them 433 companies are central forces and 102 are from the state police, Assam Chief Electoral Officer Vijayendra said yesterday.
Security has been tightened across the state with the Indo-Bangla border along Barak Valley's Karimganj district being sealed.
The 65 constituencies are spread across Upper Assam, the hill districts, the northern banks and the Barak Valley.
More than 48,000 polling personnel have been deployed in the first phase.
The first phase will witness mostly direct contest between the ruling Congress and the BJP-AGP-BPF alliance, though the AIUDF has put up candidates in 27 constituencies.
The Congress is contesting all 65 constituencies, the BJP 54 and its alliance partners AGP in 11 and BPF in three.
The AIUDF, another important contender has put up candidates in 27 while the CPI and CPI-M in 10 each, the CPI(ML)(L) in six along with 60 others of unrecognised parties and 13 Independents.
Prominent Congress candidates in the fray include Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi from Titabor, Speaker of the outgoing Assembly Pranab Gogoi from Sibsagar and former Union minister and prominent tea tribe leader Paban Singh Ghatowar.
The BJP's star candidates in the first phase include Union minister and party's chief ministerial candidate Sarbananda Sonowal from Majuli and Jorhat Lok Sabha MP Kamakhya Prasad Tasa from Titabor.
AGP's working president Atul Bora is also an important face in the fray.
While the Congress looks forward to retaining power for the fourth successive term, the BJP called for a 'parivartan' (change) to usher in development.