Manipur Election: Over 84% people cast their votes in first phase

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Manipur Elections 2017: Voting percentage likely to rise above 86 per cent
Manipur Elections 2017: Voting percentage likely to rise above 86 per cent

Imphal : Over 84 per cent polling was recorded in the first phase of elections to the Manipur Assembly on Saturday, officials said but added that the figure could increase when all the information had been collected.

Chief election officer Vivek Kumar Dewangan said that as per information so far available, there was 84 per cent polling in the 38 constituencies across six districts.

However, officials told IANS that it may exceed 86 per cent by the time all information is collected.

Dewangan also said that the exact turnout will only be known after the arrival of the polling officials from the remote and interior hill areas, adding that they will be airlifted only on Sunday evening.

"The heavy turnout of the voters is very encouraging. Many first timers also exercised their franchise," he said, noting that in a polling station in Thongju constituency in Imphal east district, 98 per cent voting was recorded.

Meanwhile, several youth had organised a campaign to use NOTA. One youth said: "The elected members have not done anything significant for us. Besides the role of the black money is disgusting. There are some parties and candidates who are out to come to power with money power."

Dewangan said that except for some stray minor incidents, polling was peaceful. "Though the poll time was over by 3 p.m., many voters were allowed to cast votes for a long time as the voting started late at some places due to technical snags in the EVMs," he added.

In one incident a candidate, Erenedo of Irom Sharmila's People's Resurgence and Justice Alliance, was allegedly assaulted by some persons.

"My ear is damaged and I have pain in the chest...will lodge a complaint against the miscreants," Erenedo said.

Police heaved a sigh of relief as voting ended, with no major law and order problem being reported from anywhere. It was widely feared that there could be violence, since there were minor clashes, bomb blasts, gun attacks and torching of at least four vehicles in the pre-election violence.

In all, there were 168 candidates in the fray for Saturday's polls, out of which seven were women. Polling took place at 1,643 polling stations in the 38 constituencies.

Altogether 8,408 personnel of the central paramilitary forces were deployed for peaceful conduct of the election. No state police personnel were posted at the polling stations.

Although candidates from several parties and Independents contested in the first phase of election, the main fight is between the ruling Congress and the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party.

The BJP had fielded candidates in all the 60 constituencies in the state, while the Congress did so in 59.

Former Minister and heavyweight Phungzathang Tonsing, who had been given a Congress ticket, resigned and joined another party. Without explaining his move, he just said: "People know what the Congress has been doing since it is a small state."

The second and final phase of polling for 22 constituencies will be held on March 8.