Itanagar, April 9:
Around 45 percent of the electorate Wednesday cast their votes in the simultaneous elections to Arunachal Pradesh’s two Lok Sabha seats and the state assembly, even as voting was suspended in four polling booths after miscreants burnt down poll material, officials said.
“We decided to withhold the election in four polling stations after miscreants burnt down poll material and voting machines in Sarli polling station in Kurung Kumey district,” state Chief Electoral Officer Chandra Bhushan Kumar said.
“Voting in two other polling stations in Sisiang village in East Siang was suspended due to a boycott call by villagers protesting poor road connectivity.”
There was a huge turnout in other polling booths across Arunachal Pradesh, bordering China and Myanmar, to elect new members to the Lok Sabha and the state assembly.
“Around 45 percent polling was recorded till 1 p.m and we expect the voting percentage to cross 60 percent,” Kumar said.
Two polling stations – Luguthang and Mago in Tawang district, bordering China – at a height of more than 13,000 feet above sea level in Arunachal West constituency, are among the highest polling centres in the country that are perpetually covered with snow.
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 is being held for the remaining 49 seats.
Altogether 7,53,170 voters will decide the fate of 11 candidates contesting for the two Lok Sabha seats and 155 candidates for the assembly seats in the state.
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 recontesting from Arunachal East, will face the BJP’s Tapir Gao.
Candidates from the Naga People’s Front, Nationalist Congress Party and People’s Party of Arunachal (PPA) are also in the fray in some constituencies.
Chief Minister Tuki, who voted in Sagalee under Arunachal West, exuded confidence that the Congress would retain power and both the sitting Congress Lok Sabha members would return to the lower house.
“We are confident of retaining power in Arunachal Pradesh as 11 of our candidates have already been declared winners. We are also optimistic that both our sitting MPs will retain their seats,” Congress leader Luizinho Faleiro said.
In 2009, the Congress won 42 assembly seats, while Trinamool Congress and NCP won five seats each. Four seats were bagged by the PPA and one was taken by an Independent.
However, the Congress tally rose to 55, after the NCP and PPA legislators joined the party along with four Trinamool members.
The BJP is equally confident of returning to the Lok Sabha from the state after a gap of five years, and also of forming the government in the state.
“We are confident of winning both the Lok Sabha constituencies and securing more seats in the assembly that will help us lead a non-Congress government in Arunachal,” state BJP president Tai Tagak said.