Imphal, March 8 (IANS) Enthusiastic men and women patiently stood in long queues before booths, as over 45 per cent of the voters exercised their rights amidst heightened security in the first four hours of polling for the second and final phase of the Manipur Assembly elections on Wednesday.
Polling was generally peaceful in all the 22 constituencies spread over five districts – Thoubal, Ukhrul, Chandel, Tamenglong and Senapati, officials said.
However, in Ukhrul district polling was stalled for some time in a booth following protest by a few voters. However polling officials brought the situation under control.
“The polling percentage was over 45 per cent till 11 am,” the Election Commission said.
Security has been beefed up after the twin bomb blasts on Tuesday, that injured a polling official and an Assam Rifles trooper near the India-Myarnmar border in Kamjong district. No untoward incident has been reported from the district so far.
Polling was also being held peacefully at the border town of Moreh, officials said.
An electorate of over 7.59 lakh is eligible to make its democratic choice from among 98 candidates — four of them women — in 1,151 polling stations.
All eyes are on Thoubal, where Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh is seeking re-election as a Congress candidate in a five-cornered contest that also features human rights activist and People’s Resurgence and Justice Alliance (PRAJA) nominee Irom Sharmila and Bharatiya Janata Party’s Leitanthem Basanta Singh.
Sharmila, who in 2016 ended a 16-year-long fast demanding the revocation of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, has now entered politics promising to repeal the legislation through constitutional means.
Another star constituency is Nungba, from where Deputy Chief Minister Gaikhangam of Congress is in the race.
Ibobi said that the polls were a kind of referendum on the burning issues.
“I do not want to give any premature comment now. We should wait for the results. But the people must have voted after taking all issues into consideration,” he said.
Meanwhile, Astate Chief Electoral Officer V.K. Dewangan has ordered repoll in 34 polling stations which went to the hustings in the first phase on March 4. The repoll shall take place on March 10.
Elections were held for 38 constituencies of the 60-seat Manipur assembly in phase one.