Over 75% polling in Nagaland, 67% in Meghalaya (Roundup)

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Kohima/Shillong/New Delhi, Feb 27 (IANS) Over 75 per cent voting was recorded on Tuesday in Assembly elections in Nagaland and 67 per cent in Meghalaya, with the percentage expected to go up in both the northeastern states, Election Commission officials said.

While voting was peaceful in Meghalaya, a clash erupted between supporters of the ruling Naga People’s Front and the Bharatiya Janata Party in Zunheboto district of Nagaland in which one person was shot dead and two persons injured.

Re-polling will be held in at least five polling stations in Nagaland.

Deputy Election Commissioner Sudeep Jain told reporters in Delhi that the voter turnout in Nagaland till 4 p.m. was 75 per cent and voters were in queues at several places at the end of polling. The 2013 Assembly elections turnout was 90.57 per cent.

Jain said two electronic voting machines were damaged by some people in the state and it was difficult to predict if the polling percentage will touch that of 2013.

“It’s not possible for us to predict at this time how much it will go above 75 per cent. We can only tell once the polling parties come back,” he said.

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Jain said several steps were taken to see that only genuine voters cast their vote. “Posters saying you are under (CCTV) surveillance were put up at all polling stations. Whether these had any impact, only a detailed study can tell,” the poll official said.

Nagaland Chief Electoral Officer Abhijit Sinha told IANS that repoll will be held in at least five booths – three in Phek district and two in Kohima.

Nagaland Police chief Rupin Sharma said police reinforcements were sent to the site of the clash in the state.

“Initially, some people prevented voters from entering the polling station, which was opposed by a rival group after which clashes erupted in Akuluto constituency. The two groups indulged in firing following which police opened fire.”

Over 11 lakh voters, including 5,89,806 women and 26,900 new voters, will decide the fate of 195 candidates, that included five women and many independents.

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The voting in the state was held in 59 of the total 60 constituencies as three-time Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio of the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDDP) has been declared elected unopposed from Northern Angami-II constituency.

The newly floated NDPP has cobbled together an alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party and the two are contesting 40 and 20 seats respectively.

Both the NDPP-BJP alliance and the ruling Naga People’s Front have expressed confidence about winning the elections.

The run-up to the polls saw several twists and turns, with the Core Committee of the Nagaland Tribal Hohos and Civil Organisations (CCNTHCO) demanding a solution to the vexed Naga problem before the elections.

In Meghalaya, 67 per cent of the 18.9 lakh voters exercised their franchise with hundreds still lined up to cast their ballots at the end of voting hours.

“Meghalaya saw a turnout of 67 per cent till 4 p.m. and there were people still in queues,” Deputy Election Commissioner Chandra Bhushan Kumar said in Delhi. In the 2013 elections, the turnout was 89 per cent.

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The voters will decide the fate of 361 candidates, including 31 women.

Counting of votes in both Meghalaya and Nagaland will take place on March 3 along with Tripura, which had gone to the polls earlier this month.

A total of 59 of 60 Assembly seats in Meghalaya went to the polls. Polling in Williamnagar constituency was countermanded following the death of Nationalist Congress Party candidate Jonathone Sangma in an IED blast in Sawilgre area of East Garo Hills district on February 18.

Meghalaya Chief Electoral Officer Frederick Roy Kharkongor said the polling percentage was expected to be above 80 per cent.

He said there is a possibility of repoll in Kyndong Tuber polling station under Raliang constituency due to an issue related to VVPAT (Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail).

The contest in Meghalaya involves the ruling Congress, BJP, National People’s Party (NPP) and the newly floated People’s Democratic Front.

Governor Ganga Prasad voted at the Oakland polling station in North Shillong constituency.

–IANS

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