Huge turnout in Lok Sabha polls in northeast India
India's four northeastern states witnessed brisk polling in the Lok Sabha election Wednesday, with Nagaland recording 82.5 percent voter turnout and Manipur as well as Arunachal Pradesh seeing around 70 percent balloting. Meghalaya saw almost two-thirds of its voters turn up.
The voting in the four states marked the second phase of the country's 10-phase poll that will see 814 million Indians exercise their franchise to elect 543 members to the Lok Sabha.
Long queues formed at polling booths in these mountainous states as voters enthusiastically turned up to cast their ballot.
An Election Commission official said in Delhi that Nagaland recorded an impressive voter turnout of 82.5 percent till 4 p.m.
Manipur saw 70 percent voter turnout till 4 p.m. and there were still long queues, said the official who spoke of a "possibility of 78 percent" turnout.
In Meghalaya, the voter turnout was 64 percent with a "possibility of going up to 66 percent" and in Arunachal Pradesh, it was 71 percent. Arunachal had last time recorded a voter turnout of 68 percent. The polling percentage is likely to go up.
While polling was held for two Lok Sabha seats each in Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh, one of the two seats in Manipur and the lone Lok Sabha seat in Nagaland, balloting was also held for 49 seats of the Arunachal assembly.
In Arunachal, around 71 percent of voters cast their ballot in simultaneous elections to the two Lok Sabha seats and the assembly, even as voting was suspended in four polling booths after miscreants burnt down poll material in Sarli in Kurung Kumey district, state Chief Electoral Officer Chandra Bhushan Kumar said.
Voting in two other polling stations was suspended due to a boycott call by villagers protesting poor road connectivity.
In the assembly polls, 11 Congress candidates, including Chief Minister Nabam Tuki and two cabinet colleagues Tanga Bayaling and Pema Khandu, have already won without a fight. Hence, voting was held for the remaining 49 seats.
BJP leader Kiren Rijiju is fighting against sitting Congress member Takam Sanjoy from Arunachal West, while union minister and Congress leader Ninong Ering, who is re-contesting from Arunachal East, faces the BJP's Tapir Gao.
In Nagaland, around 82.5 percent of the over one million electorate cast their votes for the state's lone Lok Sabha constituency. No untoward incident was reported from anywhere in the state, which borders Myanmar.
In the 2009 election, the turnout was around 90 percent.
Conducive weather helped voters come to the polling stations early. New voters and women were enthusiastic, officials said.
Due to security reasons, polling hours in Nagaland and Manipur was from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m, unlike the other northeastern states where votes could be cast between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Chief Minister and Naga People's Front president Neiphiu Rio was contesting the Lok Sabha poll against Congress candidate K.V. Pusa.
In Manipur, around 70 percent of the total 911,699 voters in Outer Manipur Lok Sabha constituency cast their ballot with polling passing off peacefully, officials said.
Police said there were some scuffles between members of rival political parties in Ukhrul and Churachandpur districts.
Voting in the Inner Manipur constituency will be held April 17.
In the last Lok Sabha elections in 2009, the turnout in the state was 77.82 percent.
The Congress re-nominated sitting member Thangso Baite while the BJP fielded Gangmumei Kamei, the Trinamool Congress Kim Gangte and the Nationalist Congress Party Chungkhokai Doungel.
Meghalaya Wednesday recorded 64 percent polling as people voted to elect the two Lok Sabha members from Shillong and Tura.
Voting remained peaceful, barring two incidentsof suspected insurgents firing blanks near the Tolegre polling booth in South Garo Hills district and wild elephants disrupting movement of officials to two polling booths - Nokchi and Halchatti - under Tura constituency.
In Shillong, there were eight candidates, including the lone woman candidate Ivoryna Shylla, who is fighting as an Independent.
In Tura, former Lok Sabha speaker and National People's Party candidate Purno A. Sangma is pitted against Daryl William Cheran Momin of the Congress. - IANS