Imphal: Over 80 percent polling was recorded in the first phase of elections to the Manipur Assembly on Saturday. Voting in the 38 constituencies, which went to polls on the day, came to a close at 3 pm, as per the Election Commission (EC) schedule.
Although the preliminary reports at 3 pm put the polling figure at 80 percent, the commission officials said the final figure could be a little higher. "There were some technical problems in the EVMs, so the polling started a few hours late at some polling stations. There were long queues in these polling stations even after the official time for closing of voting," the EC officials said.
#ManipurElection2017: 87% voting in Imphal East, its highest ever for the constituency.
— ANI (@ANI_news) March 4, 2017
The 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.
For the first time, women security personnel and polling officials were deployed at 10 polling stations in Imphal east district and six polling stations in Bishnupur district.
In all, there were 168 candidates in the fray for Saturday's polls, out of which seven were women. Prominent among the candidates are: Speaker Th Lokeswar Singh, ministers I Hemochandra Singh, Govindas Konthoujam, Kh Ratankumar Singh and T Manga Vaiphei, Manipur PCC President T N Haokip, former ministers Phungzathang Tonsing, and Y Erabot Singh and BJP leader Th Chaoba Singh.
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. 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 BJP. The BJP had fielded candidates in all the 60 constituencies in the state, while the Congress did so in 59.
Irom Sharmila casts her vote
Irom Sharmila cast her vote in Khurai Assembly constituency around 10 pm. Sharmila, who was on hunger strike for over a decade for the removal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (Afspa) from Manipur, formed the Peoples Resurgence and Justice Alliance (PRJA). The party has fielded five candidates, although it has little money or organisation.
Sharmila, speaking to CNN-News 18, expressed confidence about bringing change in Manipur. She said, "People want to see change and we are confident to bring this change in Manipur. The response from youngsters is also positive. We are confident to win from Khangabok Constituency against the state CM on March 8. We don’t believe in muscle and money power."
Around 11 pm there was a scuffle at the Keirao Kendra polling station over the alleged buying of votes by Congress candidate Thamarjit Singh.
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." Nearly 30 percent polling was reported until lunch. On expected lines, the polling gained pace from 12 noon.
PRJA candidate assaulted
Polling was by and large peaceful, except one incident, in which 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," he said. Leichombam filed a police complaint that he was attacked by some unidentified men at Sinam Leikai.
"Two persons pelted stones at my car at Sinam Leikai when I was travelling in it around 11 am," Leichombom told newsmen. Sinam Leikai falls in Thangmeiband assembly constituency where polling was held on Satuday. Leichombom, a Harvard graduate and former World Bank Fellow who also served in UNDP, is contesting from the seat.
The officer-in-charge of Imphal police station confirmed that a complaint had been registered and said Leichombom was not injured in the attack, police said. "He had lodged a police compliant and he had also lodged a complaint with us," Manipur Chief Electoral Officer Vivek Kumar Dewangan said.
Election Commission orders FIR against BJP office-bearers, newspapers
Meanwhile, the Election Commission (EC) on Friday ordered an FIR against office-bearers of the BJP's Manipur unit and certain newspapers for publishing advertisements without its approval.
In a letter to the Chief Electoral Officer of Manipur, the EC has ordered that the FIRs under Section 188 of IPC against be lodged against BJP state unit office-bearers and the newspapers which carried the advertisements on Friday in contravention of its orders and violation of RP Act.
The EC had instructed all stakeholders to not publish any advertisements on 3 and 4 March without pre-screening and subsequent approval by state-level MCMC committee.
The newspapers which carried the advertisements are: Sangai Express (Manipuri and English editions), Poknapham, People's Chronicle, Naharolgi, Thoudang, Imphal Free Press, Echel Express and Huiyen Lanpao. The poll panel has also sought a compliance report by Monday.
The second and final phase of polling will be held on 8 March.
With inputs from agencies
Published Date: Mar 04, 2017 17:32 PM | Updated Date: Mar 04, 2017 19:09 PM