IMPHAL, Mar 4: The first phase polling of the 11th Manipur Legislative Assembly election went off smoothly today and there were no reports of any major untoward incident except for a few minor incidents.
Polling began at 7 am and went on till 3 pm. The poll percentage was pegged at 84 but the figure may change a bit when full reports from far flung polling stations are received.
Long queues were seen at most of the polling stations since early morning.
Altogether 168 candidates including seven women are vying for 38 Assembly segments which went to polls in the first phase today.
Speaking to media persons after the polling was over at his Lamphelpat office this evening, Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) VK Dewangan remarked that the first phase poll went off very smoothly and peacefully.
Out of the total 11,32,525 voters including 7084 service voters of the 38 Assembly segments spread across Imphal East, Imphal West, Bishnupur, Kangpokpi, Churachandpur and Pherzawl districts, 84 per cent of them turned out to exercise their right to adult franchise.
District-wise poll percentages are Imphal East 89 pc, Imphal West 86.90 pc, Bishnupur 87.80 pc, Kangpokpi 80 pc and 68 pc for the combination of Churachandpur and Pherzawl districts, Dewangan said.
The poll percentage for Churachandpur and Pherzawl district is likely to rise because detail reports have not been received from 28 polling stations of the two districts. As such, the aggregate poll percentage of 84 per cent is also likely to change.
For the first time, 189 VVPATs were used in Nambol, Bishnupur, Yais-kul, Khurai, Singjamei and Uripok ACs, said the CEO.
Android based mobile phone app and video cameras were installed at all polling stations so as to record untoward incidents.
Polling process in 1079 stations were streamed live while the same process in the remaining stations were recorded offline.
Altogether 8404 polling personnel and 9338 police personnel excluding central paramilitary forces were assigned duties during the first phase election.
For the first time, 16 polling booths (10 in Imphal West and six in Bishnupur) were exclusively manned by women polling personnel.
Altogether 76 polling parties left for their respective stations three days ahead of the polling day and 73 polling parties two days ahead from Chura-chandpur district head- quarters. While 37 polling parties walked for four hours to reach their destinations, 14 polling parties detailed for election duty in Vangai Range used boats to reach their stations.
At some polling booths, mementos were presented to young voters who were voting for the first time.
Different mobile apps like Suvidha, Samadhan, Sugam, Poll Star, E-Manipur etc were launched specially for the election.
All flying squads were equipped with GPS tracking devices, said the CEO.
Altogether 12 general observers, 12 expenditure observers, 12 police observers, four awareness obser- vers, 258 micro observers and 38 assistant expenditure observers were also roped in for the first phase poll.
Even though there were no reports of paid news, there were 322 cases of violating model code of conduct.
The total percentage of depositing licensed guns reached 61.05.
To a query, the CEO conveyed that there were complaints for re-poll in some polling stations of Saikul AC and Churachandpur district.
The final decision on re-poll would be adopted by the ECI after the complaints are studied with the concerned ROs and general observers.
Due arrangements are being made to airlift polling personnel posted in interior areas of Tipaimukh, Henglep and Vangai Range to Churachandpur district Hqs tomorrow.
Reports have been received about assaulting a candidate of PRJA. The concerned RO and the DEO have been directed to take up a case, said the CEO.
Even though there are certain reports about some pressure groups including UG groups exerting pressure on voters at Henglep and Saikot, there have been no reports of any major untoward incident so far.
Altogether Rs 26,85,200 in cash and 61,108 litres of country made liquor and Indian Made Foreign Liquor were seized in special drives carried out ahead of the election, Dewangan informed.
He also conveyed gratitude to DEOs, officers, staff, State Nodal Police Officer, Manipur Police, CPMF, CSO and media for their roles toward holding the first phase poll successfully.
After just 71 votes were polled in 51/2 Mayang-khang (A) polling station, no more votes were polled at the polling station after 10.30 am.
Even though the exact reason for majority of the voters to stay away from the polling process was not known, it was suspected that they were put under immense pressure by some elements, informed a source.
Cadres of militant groups which are under Suspension of Operation (SoO) pact were also allowed to cast votes on postal ballot papers.
It was reported that a minor hullabaloo broke out at 10/5 Iroishemba Upper Primary School polling station of Uripok Assembly segment after ex-DGP and NPP candidate Y Joykumar came at the polling station and allegedly sat there for a while. But the situation was brought under control following timely intervention by police.
It is reported that re-poll may be held in the particular polling station.
Our Correspondents add:
72 percent polling recorded in CCpur
Polling for the six assembly seats in Churachandpur district that concluded today supervised by a huge posse of central para-military forces was by and large peaceful with the average polling percentage touching 71.9, as per the latest estimate.
Minor scuffles were reported from some parts of Churachandpur.
At Ngurte village under Saikot AC, no voters turn up due to a quarrel the previous night where a brawl occurred between supporters of rival candidates which eventually took a political turn leading the villagers to take the extreme decision.
Representatives of Hmar Inpui, the apex body of the Hmar tribe met with the village elders early today but apparently failed to persuade the villagers from withdrawing their decision of staying away from voting.
The rare case of entire voters of a particular booth failing to turn up with no official statement has reportedly left the district officials in a tight spot as they were still to make an official call on whether there should be a re-poll or not.
At Sangaikot area, polling was held under a tight security vigil as the neighbourhood was notorious for diktats during polls and some parties have even alleged that a particular party has prohibited others from entering the area at all.
The voting exercise appeared free and smooth though polling agents of all candidates are not always available in some polling stations.
On the outskirts of Tuinuphai village (14/60), a group of women told media persons that they have been prohibited from casting their votes.
Upon enquiring, the polling officials and the village chief have however refuted the allegations and claimed that 301 voters out of the 473 registered have already cast their votes by 12.02 pm.
Today’s polling was particularly unprecedented in the town area as the CSOs and the Church took an active role to ensure a free and fair poll with many village elders and church elders and even the Pastors in some places could be seen keeping vigil throughout the voting hours.
Meanwhile EVMs started to arrive at the DEO office soon after the voting hours ended but for the particularly remote and far flung booths numbering about 40, the EVMs will be airlifted tomorrow, said an official.
The segment wise polling rate as per the latest estimates was 73.76 percent for 55-Tipaimukh AC, 69.5 percent for 56-Thanlon AC, 82.8 percent for 57-Henglep AC, 72 percent for 58-CCpur AC, 61.92 percent for 59-Saikot AC and 70.75 percent for 60-Singngat AC.
Polling in six Assembly Constituencies of Bishnupur district with 167994 voters at 227 polling stations went smoothly and peacefully today.
A total of 21 candidates are contesting for six seats in Bishnupur district.
The procedure and process of the poll were web cast and checked online at DC office Bishnupur.
A minor commotion occured at polling station 25/5 in Oinam AC but was eventually calmed down by DEO Bishnupur and election observers, and voting continued.
Technical problems occured in polling stations 28/15, 28/16 and 28/19 of Thanga AC where the voters were allowed to vote past the deadline i.e 3 pm.
Tokens were distributed to those voters who were already inside the polling station campus, allowing them to vote after 3 pm.
The poll rate were 89 percent out of 30931 voters in Nambol AC, 78 percent out of 36174 voters in Oinam AC , 87 percent out of 29168 voters in Bishnupur AC , 91 percent out of 35049 voters in Moirang AC, 90 percent out of 20707 voters in Thanga AC and 91 percent out of 25965 voters in Kumbi.
The overall poll percentage of the six ACs was approximately 87.66 percent.
To make todays’s poll successful in various polling stations of the district, a total of 1203 central paramilitary forces, State force and unarmed forces guarded the polling stations/complexes.
The Phase I poll of the 11th Manipur State Legislative Assembly in the three ACs of Kangpokpi district ended peacefully with the lowest turnout recorded at the two polling stations of Mayangkhang in Saitu AC.
Voting begins as scheduled at 6 am in the morning and no misconduct of poll was witnessed in all the polling stations located within Kangpokpi DHQs.
However, at 51/2 and 51/3 Mayangkhang polling stations under Saitu AC voting remain inactive from 10:30 am after 71 votes had been polled out of the total 1082 votes at 51/2 and 31 votes out of 600 total votes which came to around only 6 per cent and 5 per cent respectively.
Though there is no official confirmation as to why such low turnout have been witnessed at Mayangkhang polling stations, it was reported that some suspected NSCN-IM cadres snatched away all the voters slip and burnt them while another source said that the chief of Mayangkhang asked all voters to vote for one particular candidate and warned them not to divide their votes in favour of different candidates.
However, it was not disclosed to whom the village chief asked the voters to vote for.
Another incident of confrontation between supporters of NCP and BJP candidate at 46/3 Molkon polling station has been reported at around noon.
One BJP supporter was injured in the confrontation and later taken to Imphal for medical treatment.
Confrontation between supporters of INC and BJP candidate at G Songlung polling station in Saitu AC was reported at around 11 am. However security force controlled the situation after firing several round of tear gas shells.
At 50/30 and 50/32 Kalapahar polling stations, supporters of BJP and independent candidates confronted over alleged proxy voting by supporters of the independent candidate .
The BJP supporters alleged that non-local voters who have no genuine documents were brought from Kanglatongbi, Mantripukhri and Imphal to vote in favour of the independent candidate at 50/30 and 50/32 Kalapahar polling stations.
Those suspected non-local people were restricted to enter the polling stations even though a few of them got the chance to vote on arrival of the independent candidate .
They were once again restricted from voting at the intervention of the BJP candidate.
No other incident has been reported so far till filing of this report. Some polling parties sent to various polling stations particular in far flung areas are yet to arrive at the office of DC Kangpokpi even though most of the polling parties have already arrived safe and sound.
The overall poll percentage in the three ACs of Kangpokpi district is expected to be not less than 75-80 per cent.
Source: The Sangai Express