Reports of alleged proxy voting in Ukhrul district marred polling in Manipur as 86 per cent voters turned out in the second and the last phase of the Assembly election on Wednesday. The turnout in 22 Assembly constituencies was the highest since the 2009 Lok Sabha election. Election Commission director-general Sudeep Jain told reporters the polling went off peacefully “barring a couple of stray incidents”. In Ukhrul’s Chingai, BJP candidate Vashum lodged a proxy voting complaint. “There are three large villages where this has happened,’’ he said. He added that two EVMs were smashed in Chingjeroi village.
“In Peh village, which is my stronghold, EVMs in two polling booths were broken. And in Rachai village, EVMs were smashed. They have gone to the extent of smashing the EVMs. There has to be a repoll,’’ said Vashum, who is former NSCN-IM commander V S Atem’s brother. “There were boys, non-voters, inside the booths, and they were allowed to go in.’’
In Somdal, NSCN-IM general secretary TH Muivah’s birthplace, Vashum said his polling agent was not allowed to enter booths.
An official said that NSCN-IM cadres tried to capture a booth in Hundung village. “They told me they wanted to vote. I knew that the polling booth had polled 80 per cent votes by then,’’ the official said. “But to prevent the capture, I told them that 90 per cent voting was complete, and if they cast more votes, the administration would declare a re-poll. So they left.’’
At several polling booths in Hungdung village, EVMs were reportedly smashed. “We will send a report. Repoll will be declared,’’ said Ukhrul Deputy Commissioner MJ Pradip Chandren.
Elsewhere, there was much enthusiasm about the polling. In remote Lunghar village, 342 out of 643 voters had voted by mid-day. Unbroken rocks had been thrown on a mud track for voters to walk to the polling booth as Naga People’s Front (NPF) and BJP flags fluttered along the way.
A group of women said they had voted for the BJP. “We did not get rice from the Congress. There was a time when we would not get rice at all. But since the BJP has come to power at the Centre, we get rice regularly,’’ said Areiwon Lungharwa, 60. She said her eight children were unemployed. “The BJP has said that every family will have at least a job.’’
Kachingmai, 40, said she expects to get electricity and better roads if the BJP comes to power. Kazipmi, 48, said NSCN-IM cadres visited their village. “I would have voted for NPF in any case because they are a Naga party and I am a Naga.’’