Guwahati: First-time voters in Assam displayed their enthusiasm by queuing up in large numbers before polling stations, much before the third phase of the assembly polls began on Tuesday, with the momentum continuing.
The young voters turned up in large numbers in most of the 40 constituencies spread across 12 districts.
Reposing their faith in democracy, the young voters said, they felt thrilled to be part of the electoral process.
One such voter was Nandil Biswa Sarma, 19-year-old son of Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, who exercised his franchise along with his parents at Amingaon High School under Jalukbari constituency.
"I feel good after casting my vote as every vote matters and it makes me happy that I have a role, even though a small one, in the formation of the next government", the aspiring lawyer said.
Twenty one-year-old Ankita Barua of Dispur constituency and her parents lined up early at a polling station, with all COVID-19 precautions, to avoid crowding for minimising their risk during the pandemic.
"This is my first participation in elections and I feel privileged to exercise my democratic rights. We have great hopes from our leaders and I hope they give due importance to the problems of young people who have suffered a lot, both academically and professionally, during the last one year due to the COVID-19 situation," she said.
For Riyan Buragohain, who turned 18 in October last, this election is special for him and he is delighted to exercise his franchise at a polling station in Gauhati (East) constituency to "contribute towards a positive change in the socio-economic landscape of Assam.
"As a resident of Gauhati (East) constituency, I want my MLA to give topmost priority to resolve our drinking water crisis," he said.
He also hoped that the new Assam government would, on the whole, focus more on public health, unemployment and protection of minority rights.
Upasana Dutta, a biotechnology student in Bangalore and a first-time voter, said, "Though COVID-19 has confined me to my house here for nearly an year now, it has proved to be a boon as I was able to vote for the first time.
"I was eligible to vote in the last Lok Sabha elections but I was in college and could not come home as my semester end examinations were on".
She urged the elected leaders to ensure that issues like women empowerment in the true sense, climate change mitigation issues and corruption-free delivery system were realised.
Another 18-year-old Alankrita Dutta said that for her, exercising the right to vote is important as it gives "me the scope to bring about a difference, even though it may be in the slightest way.
"In these difficult times, the need of the hour is a leader that unites us and looks after our concerns with utmost diligence and critical thinking. I hope for better implementation of policies in the education and environmental sector," she said.
For 20-year old Mozzamil Ahmed of Hajo, campaigning by certain parties was vitriolic in nature with attempts to polarise people who have always lived in peace and harmony.
"My only appeal to all elected members is to refrain from such practices and not divide people, particularly youths, on religious lines. As it is, young people are beset with many problems regarding their future and there is no need to spread animosity among us," Ahmed said.
Overseas research scholar Anubhuti Gohain Boruah said that though she had voted in the last Lok Sabha polls, she was exercising her franchise in the assembly elections for the first time and this "Feels different as this vote is for my state...my homeland and its development.
"I feel privileged to be home during elections and exercising my franchise as hopefully, it will help my state to become a better and developed place with employment oppurtunities, security of women, environment protection, tourism promotion of our beautiful land and growth of economy given immediate priority by the new government.
All first-time voters were unanimous in urging the leaders not to betray their trust, and "work for our future, our states future, so that we can grow and take Assam to global heights".