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North East states: Youth queue up for ‘change’
Polling for the second phase of Lok Sabha elections held in six constituencies across four North East states — Nagaland, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya — went off largely peacefully, with most people, especially the youth who turned up at the polling booths, saying they had voted for “change” and “development”.
There was high turnout in most states — 70 per cent in Manipur, 64 per cent in Meghalaya, 82.5 per cent in Nagaland and 71 per cent in Arunachal Pradesh.
In Meghalaya, a 12-hour bandh called by the underground Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) did not dampen the spirit as tribals from the Khasi and Jaintia communities came out in colourful attire to exercise their right in Shillong. Though shops and business establishments remained shut, most voters ignored the bandh call.
“I voted for a change at the Centre,” said Ngilyang Tam (21) a first-time voter in Ziro-Hapoli in Lower Subansiri, which had chosen Arunachal leader Takam Sanjoy in 2009. “I think most people of my generation voted for change,” said Dorsel Marak (20), a BSc student in Don Bosco College in Tura, Meghalaya.
“Most people I know want development,” said Augistine Kharmujai (21), who cast his vote in Rynjah, Shillong. “My vote will help form a new government at the Centre,” said Atsungba Walling (29), a voter in Duncan Basti in Dimapur, Nagaland’s commercial hub.
The Congress, meanwhile, claimed it would retain power in Arunachal, where Assembly polls were held simultaneously, and also win at least five of the six Lok Sabha seats. “We are not only forming the government again in Arunachal, but also sending both MPs from our party to the Lok Sabha,” claimed Mukut Mithi, Arunachal PPC president in Itanagar. In Shillong, Meghalaya CM Mukul D Sangma claimed the Congress would bag both LS seats in the state.
In Nagaland, where CM and Naga People’s Front (NPF) leader Neiphiu Rio has K V Pusa of the Congress as his main rival, political analysts said it seemed likely the NPF would win the lone Lok Sabha seat. Press secretary to the CM said there was trouble in only one polling station. “This polling station, Ladiagarh, is on the Assam-Nagaland border and because of the continuing border dispute, no polling could take place here,” the official said.
Meanwhile in Arunachal, the Congress candidate for the Khonsa (West) Assembly seat, Yumsum Matey, was abducted at gunpoint Wednesday morning, but was soon released without any harm, Satyendra Garg, IGP (L&O) said in Itanagar.
Simultaneous polling for the Lok Sabha and Assembly seats created some confusion among voters in the state. While 11 Congress candidates have already been elected unopposed, polling took place for only 49 seats for the 60-member Assembly.
Voters in Sisen under Pangning Assembly segment boycotted the elections to protest against the state government’s alleged neglect towards the development of the village.
In Manipur, an IED bomb went off in the evening near the convoy of the deputy speaker of the state Assembly P Shimrey, who escaped unhurt. There were some reports of booth capturing from various villages across Ukhrul, where the NSCN IM threatened villagers to either abstain from voting or vote for the NPF, Congress workers alleged. The state BJP unit also lodged a complaint with the state election commission, alleging that the NSCN IM and some other insurgent groups had rigged 57 polling stations.