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Voting begins in north eastern states

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Kohima/ Imphal/ Itanagar/Shillong , April 9 :

Voting for the lone Lok Sabha seat in Nagaland began Wednesday for the second phase of India’s general elections, official said.

The Lok Sabha election for the Nagaland parliamentary seat will be webcast to keep a tab on the voting process in 84 polling centres. This is the first election in India’s northeastern states to be webcasted.

“Voting has started in all the 2,059 polling booths across Nagaland. We expect large number of people would turn out to exercise their franchise to elect the new Lok Sabha member,” Chief Electoral Officer Sentiyanger Imchen told IANS.Poll Vote Election

Altogether, 11,77,572 electors are eligible to exercise their franchise to elect one of the three candidates.

Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio pitted against Congress candidate K.V. Pusa. Rio’s Naga People’s Front is a member of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

Among the three candidates testing the electoral waters, Akhei Achumi is contesting on the Socialist Party (India) ticket.

Imchen said the Election Commission has decided on live webcast of the Lok Sabha election in 84 polling booths to ensure free and fair balloting across the state.

The webcast facility will be deployed in 21 polling booths in Nagaland capital Kohima, 20 in Dimapur, the main commercial hub of the state, and the remaining in 10 other districts.

Imchen said the idea behind webcasting the polling process was to prevent illegal activities such as booth capturing and bogus voting.

He said the webcast facility will provide live feed from polling booths to the Election Commission, state chief electoral officer and the district election officers concerned.

Moreover, the recording would be closely monitored in the control room in each district.

“Teams would be deputed in these offices to monitor the feed received from the polling booths. In case any irregularity is found from the feed, field officials would immediately be directed to take corrective steps,” Imchen said.

Over 14,000 security personnel have been put into service to ensure smooth polling in the 2,059 polling booths. The election commission has declared 1,536 polling booths as normal, 429 as vulnerable and 94 as critical.

Manipur

oting for one of the two Lok Sabha seats in Manipur began Wednesday, officials said.

Polling is being held for the Outer Manipur seat, while the Inner Manipur constituency will vote April 17.

In all, 911,699 voters, including 463,068 women, are eligible to exercise their franchise at 1,406 polling stations in Outer Manipur constituency.

Polling hours in Manipur will be from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., unlike other states where votes can be cast between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m.

The ruling Congress has re-nominated sitting Lok Sabha member Thangso Baite, while the Bharatiya Janata Party has fielded Gangmumei Kamei, the Trinamool Congress Kim Gangte, and the Nationalist Congress Party has fielded Chungkhokai Doungel.

Meghalaya

Voting for two parliamentary constituencies in Meghalaya began Wednesday amidst tight security, marking the start of second phase elections in India which began April 7, an official said.

Men and women in large numbers queued up in front of polling stations well before voting opened at 7 a.m. in the entire state. Polling ends at 5 p.m., said chief electoral officer Prashant Naik.

Meghalaya has two parliamentary constituencies – Shillong and Tura. Eight of the 10 candidates for these are crorepatis.

The ruling Congress in the state is pitted against fractured regional parties for the two Lok Sabha seats in this mountainous northeastern state, where elecrtions are to be held April 9.

Of a total 15, 67,241 electors in Meghalaya, 22.62 percent are in the 18-25 age group, while 50.43 percent are women. Among the electors, 5,86,501 voters are in Tura, divided into 24 assembly segments, while 9,80,740 voters will cast their votes for the Shillong seat that has 36 assembly segments.

In Shillong parliamentary constituency, there are eight candidates, including lone woman candidate Ivoryna Shylla, who is fighting the election as an Independent.

Prominent candidates in the electoral ring from Meghalaya’s capital include sitting Congress Lok Sabha member Vincent H. Pala, Paul Lyngdoh (United Democratic Party), Shibun Lyngdoh (Bharatiya Janata Party) and P.B.M. Basaiawmoit (Independent).

However, all eyes are on the Tura parliamentary constituency where former Lok Sabha Speaker and NPP candidate Purno Agitok Sangma is ranged against the Congress’ Daryl William Cheran Momin.

Agatha K.Sangma, the youngest parliamentarian in the current Lok Sabha representing Tura constituency, quit the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and decided not to contest the April 9 election to make room for her father, Purno Sangma, who had earlier represented the constituency for straight nine times and has served as a speaker of the Lok Sabha.

The outlawed Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) has called for a 12-hour shutdown from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday as part of the outfit’s boycott of the parliamentary elections in the eastern part of Meghalaya.

Arunachal Pradesh

Balloting began Wednesday for Arunachal Pradesh’s two Lok Sabha constituencies and 60-member state assembly, officials said.

Polling will be held for 49 assembly seats, as 11 Congress candidates, including Chief Minister Nabam Tuki, have already been elected unopposed.

A total of 155 people will contest for the 49 seats.

As many as 11 candidates are vying for the two Lok Sabha seats – both reserved for tribals.

Altogether, 753,170 voters would exercise their right to franchise for both the Lok Sabha and assembly polls in 2,158 polling stations.

In 2009, the Congress won both the Lok Sabha seats – Arunachal West and Arunachal East.

The Congress or its breakaway groups have been in power in Arunachal Pradesh since 1980. The only time when the Bharatiya Janata Party came to power was in 2003. But the BJP government lasted for only 42 days.

In 2004, the Congress bagged 34 of the 60 assembly seats. It improved its tally in 2009 to 42. While the BJP bagged three and the NCP five seats, as many as 10 seats were captured by local parties and independents.

(IANS)