CEO optimistic of smooth polls and high turnout today

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IMPHAL, Jan 28: Addressing media persons today at the Main Conference of the Secretariat, P.C. Lawmkunga Chief Electoral Officer said that all preparations have been put in place to ensure the smooth passage of the state general assembly elections on January 28. “We are prepared for any eventualities and are hopeful that the elections will take place without any major incident,” said the CEO. He further briefed the media on the security measures taken at various parts of the state.

The CEO said that two helicopters have been requisitioned to be on stand by for any poll related evacuation, transportation of electronic voting machines and polling personnel. “One helicopter will be on stand by at Imphal while the other will be stationed at Leimakhong,” informed Lawmkunga. Giving a picture of the steps being taken up to ensure compliance of the guidelines of the Election Commission of India, he said that a total amount of 1 crore and eight thousand rupees had been seized from various places in relation to expenses for supporting political candidates. He further confirmed that the seizure of 36.5 lakhs made from Thangal Bazar on January 18 was related to the elections, adding though that at this stage, it wasn’t clear which party the money was meant for.

The CEO also added that 30 small arms and country made pistols and 770, ammunition were seized till date besides 45,999 litres of liquor, 3800 milligrams of heroin and 360 tablets of Spasmo Proxyvon were seized. “A total of 121 poll related violence related incidents with 8 deaths and 38 people sustaining injuries have been put to our notice,” said Lawmkunga. He further said that the single phase polling had posed serious logistical challenges, “When we requisitioned for vehicles from the governments of Assam and Nagaland, we got far lesser than the numbers we had requested for.” Only 5 gypsies out of a request for 109 vehicles from Nagaland30 vehicles out of a requisitioned 150 from Assam made it to the state he said.

Asked whether the threats and bans imposed by various armed groups would deter people from exercising their franchise, Lawmkunga said, “The people of Manipur are very conscious of practicing their democratic rights. We are confident that they will turn out in large numbers again.”

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