Imphal: One person was killed in violence as Manipur recorded an impressive voter turnout of over 76 percent, an hour after the scheduled close of polling for the second and last phase of the state Assembly elections on Saturday.
While 38 of the Northeastern state’s 60 Assembly constituencies went to the hustings on February 28 recording a massive 88.63 percent turnout, the remaining 22 seats – concentrated mostly in the hilly areas as also some of the valleys – held polling on Saturday.
The polling officially ended at 4 PM, but many people were still in the queue before polling stations. All those who entered the polling station before the closing hour were being allowed to vote. One person died while another man was injured in firing at the 47/49 number polling station in Karong constituency under Senapati district, police said.
The wounded man has been flown to the state capital Imphal for treatment. Sources said the two persons had reportedly tried to snatch Electronic Voting Machines from a polling station and security personnel on duty in the area resorted to firing, resulting in the death of one of them while the other man was wounded.
However, Ngaoni R James, Election agent of BJP candidate Jonathan Tao said in a letter to the Returning Officer the deceased K Longvao and the severely injured V. Saope were shot without any warning. He said the security forces will not be allowed to leave the polling station where the incident took place until justice was done. Voting was stopped in the polling station.’
Meanwhile, election officials said 76.04 percent polling was recorded till 5 PM. Senapati district recorded the highest turnout with 82.02 percent while Thoubal recorded 78 , Chandel 76.71, Jiribam 75.02, Ukhrul 71.57 and Tamenglong 66 percent respectively, the officials said.
There were reports of three bomb blasts at three separate places, but they did not cause any casualty or major damage. Allegations of booth capturing surfaced at Tamei constituency in Tamenglong district and there was damage to a vehicle during clashes between supporters of two candidates in Mao constituency under Senapati district.
K Ranjit, Congress candidate of Sugnu, alleged his workers were assaulted by activists of other political parties. Earlier, people started lining up before the polling stations even before the scheduled start at 7 AM. There prevailed a festive atmosphere, as men, women, youths enthusiastically headed to the polling centres located mostly in the hilly areas and also some of the valleys.
While the polling figure was 11.40 percent after the first two hours, it went up to 28.19 percent by 11 AM. Former Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh of the Congress cast his vote at Thoubal constituency, from where he is seeking re-election.
Ibobi’s son L Surjakumar, who is in the race from Khangabok constituency, also exercised his democratic right in the morning. Voting started late in some polling stations due to some technical problems. O Ibobi too had to wait for some time before he could vote.
The fate of 92 candidates, including two women, would be decided in this phase of the polls being held in six election districts of Senapati, Jiribam, Thoubal, Ukhrul, Tamenglong and Chandel. A total of 8,38,730 electors including 4,10,020 males, 4,28,679 females and 31 transgender are eligible to exercise their franchise .
Thoubal Assembly constituency is being entirely supervised by women polling officials. About 4988 election officials are on duty at the 1247 polling stations. The constituencies which have gone to the hustings in this phase had elected 12 Congress MLAs, as also four from Naga People’s Front (NPF), three from BJP, two from National People’s Party (NPP) and one independent in the last elections.
This time Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is contesting in 22 seats, Indian National Congress (INC) in 18, National People’s Party (NPP) in 11, Janata Dal-United (JD-U) in 10, Republican Party of India-Athawale (RPI-A) in three, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Shiv Sena in two each. There are also one candidate each from CPI and Rashtriya Janhit Sangharsh Party (RJSP), besides 12 Independent contestants.
Arrangements for webcasting/videography have been made in all polling stations. The movement of EVMs is being tracked with the help of e-Traccar App embedded in the mobile phones of polling personnel and Sector Officers.
Meanwhile, as directed by the High Court of Manipur, dates of birth of all young voters in Heirok Assembly Constituency who appear to be in the vicinity of the age of majority, that is 18 years, were verified by using two documents to verify their identity.
In the second phase, besides Ibobi, the fate of former Education Minister and BJP heavyweight Th Radheshyam (Heirok seat) and past state Congress President Gaikhangam (Nungba constituency) will be decided. Repolling was also held in 12 polling stations, where the vote in the first phase on February 28 was declared void. The votes would be counted on March 10.