27 February, New Delhi
With counting D-day set for March 3, a heavy, but reduced, turnout of the 20 lakh voters was registered on Tuesday in Assembly elections in tiny Nagaland and scenic Meghalaya.
Nagaland registered 75 pc turnout against 90 per cent five years ago and Meghalaya 67% against 89 per cent of the previous figure.
The results of both the states would be announced on March 3 along with Tripura which went to the polls on 18th February.
Till 1500 hrs, overall polling percentage average for the13th Nagaland Assembly elections recorded at 67 per cent.
In a tweet, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday urged the people of the two states to vote in large numbers.
Authorities said two persons passed away during the elections in Nagaland where former Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio of the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party has already been declared the uncontested winner from Angami-2 Assembly segment.
One person died of heart attack while he was in voting queue at Mokokchung Town assembly constituency and the other in a clash between supporters of two rival groups in Akuloto segment under Zunheboto district. Three persons were injured in the clash. One person succumbed to his injuries and two other were rushed to nearby hospital.
However, polling was not affected due to the clash, sources said.
Although polling was to end at 1600 hours, there was long queues in several polling stations throughout the state. Those who were in the queue before 1600 hrs, will be allowed to cast their votes, the sources said.
A UNI report from Shillong stated that more that 50 per cent polling was recorded till 1600 hours in Meghalaya.
Polling in both states took place in 59 Assembly constituencies out of the 60-member Houses.
Meghalaya glitchesAccording to Meghalaya Chief Electoral Officer Frederick Roy Kharkongor, over 50 per cent of the voters had exercised their franchise till 1600 hours.
”The polling time was till 1600 hours. But at many booths people standing in the lines till the given time were handed tokens so that they can exercise their franchise. The polling per cent is likely to increase,” the CEO said.
He said that there is no report of any poll violence from any part of the state.
Initially, the voter turnout was sparse due to the chilly weather.
The CEO said that 30 Electronic Voting Machines and 41 Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail machines were replaced due to glitches.
Altogether, 60 Poll Observers, including 18 police observers, had fanned out in their respective zones to oversee the smooth conduct of polls.
As many as 106 companies of central armed police force were deployed to ensure an incident-free polling during the Meghalaya’s eighth Assembly election.
Border Security Force had also tightened vigil across the state’s international frontier with Bangladesh.
Altogether, 340 polling stations are identified as critical and 580 as vulnerable.
Chief Minister Dr Mukul Sangma, who cast his vote at a polling station in Chengkompara, expressed confidence that the Congress party would cross the magic tally of 31 seats.
”We are expecting a comfortable majority, ” the Chief Minister told reporters.
National People’s Party (NPP) chief Conrad Sangma said his party would emerge as the single largest party.
United Democratic party (UDP) chief Dr Donkupar Roy, said that the alliance of Hill State People’s Democratic Party (HSPDP) and Garo National Council (GNC) would unseat the ruling Congress.
Among the early voters were Meghalaya Governor Ganga Prasad, state Cabinet Minister and East Shillong candidate from Congress party, Ampareen Lyngdoh, and Bharatiya Janata Party chief Shibun Lyngdoh.
Polling began at 0700 hours in 3,025 polling stations across Meghalaya, amid a security tier of 106 companies of paramilitary troopers.
The election was webcast in 183 polling stations.
An electorate of 18,12,440, could exercise their franchise to decide the fate of 361 candidates in the fray of whom 31 are women and 80 independents.
In Williamnagar constituency, the Election Commission is yet to fix the date where a candidate of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) Jonathone Sangma was killed in an IED blast.
There were 3,025 VVPATs and 66 polling stations manned fully by women.
Mawlai assembly constituency in East Khasi Hills district had 42,670 voters while Dalu segment in West Garo Hills near the India-Bangladesh 18,640, the lowest.
Among the 361 candidates in the Meghalaya fray, were Chief Minister Mukul Sangma, Assembly Speaker Abu Taher Mondal, two former Chief Ministers – Salseng C Marak and Donkupar Roy, Home Minister HDR Lyngdoh and former Union Minister Agatha K Sangma.
Nagaland decidesVoter turnout stood at 38 per cent till noon in Nagaland.
According to Media Cell of CEO’s office, the Pughoboto (Election District) registered 55 per cent turnout, Longleng 43 pc and Zunheboto and Mokokchung districts 40 pc.
Non and Tuensang districts registered 33 per cent turnout till noon.
Around 31.40 per cent voting was recorded till 1300 hours in Meghalaya.
Voting for the 13th Nagaland Legislative Assembly took place at 2,156 polling stations, and till 1000 hrs, there was a 21 per cent turnout.
Polling began on a low key, although there were queues in some of the polling stations before the booths opened. As the day advanced, the queues began to swell and polling officials became busy managing the voters.