Manipur Assembly polls Phase 1: 10% voter turnout in 1st 2 hours

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Around 10 per cent voter turnout was recorded till 9 a.m. on Monday in the first phase of the Manipur Assembly elections, which is underway amid tight security in 38 of the 60 constituencies, according to election officials.

The officials said that so far no untoward incident was reported from any of the five districts where the elections were going on very smoothly.

Men and women, including the young voters in large numbers queued up in front of the polling stations well before the voting started at 7 a.m. Polling will continue till 4 p.m without any break.

A total of 12,09,439 voters, including 6,28,657 females and 175 transgenders, are eligible to cast their votes across 1,721 polling stations in five districts — Imphal East, Imphal West, Bishnupur, Churachandpur and Kangpokpi.

Monday’s first phase of polling will decide the fate of 173 candidates, including 15 women contestants.

The aspirants include Chief Minister and BJP candidate N.Biren Singh, his cabinet colleague Thongam Biswajit Singh, NPP candidate and Deputy Chief Minister Yumnam Joykumar Singh, senior BJP leader Thokchom Satyabrata Singh, Congress’ Ratankumar Singh, Lokeshwar Singh, Saratchandra Singh, sitting party MLA Akoijam Mirabai Devi are at stake.

Firebrand women leader and Janata Dal (United) candidate Thounaojam Brinda, who was the Additional Superintendent of Police (Headquarters), also is contesting in the first phase of polling from the Yaiskul constituency.

Covid-19 protocols for the polling personnel and voters including, use of face masks, sanitizer, social distancing and thermal screening are being maintained.

A senior Election Commission official said that there are 10,041 physically challenged electors (PwD) and 251 centenarian voters in these 38 Assembly constituencies.

The official said that 381 polling stations are being fully manned by all women polling personnel and all polling stations in four assembly constituencies — Singjamei, Yaiskul, Wangkhei and Churachandpur — are being manned by all women polling teams.

One polling station in Saikot Assembly constituency is being manned completely by physically challenged polling personnel.

Out of the 173 candidates, 39 candidates have criminal antecedents, the officials said. Of the 173 candidates, the ruling BJP has fielded 38 candidates, followed by the main opposition Congress 35 and its ally CPI one while BJP’s estranged ally National People’s Party put up 27 candidates, Janata Dal (United) 28, Nationalist Congress Party six, Shiv Sena seven, RPI (Athawale) six and remaining by various other parties.

During the over two month long campaign, development, militancy, illegal trade of drugs, repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Power) Act, 1958 (AFSPA), women empowerment, rising unemployment and corruption were the main issues highlighted by the political parties in their campaign.

The BJP, which had secured 21 seats in the 60-member Assembly in the last Assembly polls in 2017 and wrested the power for the first time, stitching together a coalition government with the support of four NPP MLAs, four Naga People’s Front (NPF) members, the lone Trinamool Congress MLA and an Independent member. However, this time the BJP, NPP and the NPF are contesting separately and have put-up candidates against each other.

The NPP, the dominant party of the Meghalaya Democratic Alliance government, has been an ally of the BJP in both the northeastern states (Meghalaya and Manipur) since 2017.

The Congress, which governed the state for 15 consecutive years (2002-2017) and emerged as the single largest party by securing 28 seats in 2017 poll, this time formed a Manipur Progressive Secular Alliance (MPSA) after forging a pre-poll alliance with four Left parties and Janata Dal-Secular.

The second phase of polling will be held in 22 seats on March 5. Votes will be counted on March 10.

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