Moderate to brisk polling was reported from four North Eastern states of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Meghalaya and Manipur for six Lok Sabha constituencies till noon.
There was 25 per cent polling in Arunachal, 39 per cent in Meghalaya, 38.98 per cent in Nagaland and 40 per cent in Manipur.
Polling was also underway for the 60-member Assembly in Arunachal Pradesh. Congress candidate in Konsa (W) Assembly constituency in troubled Tirap district of Arunachal Pradesh was kidnapped by suspected militants, but was released unharmed later.
Congress, BJP, NCP and Peoples Party of Arunachal (PPA), besides Independents, are in the fray in the Western and Eastern parliamentary constituencies which are traditional Congress strongholds since 1975, except in 2004 when BJP made a dent for the first time.
Union Minister of State for Minority Affairs Ninong Ering of Congress was pitted against BJP nominee Tarir Gao and PPA’S Wangman Lowangcha in the Eastern parliamentary seat.
After casting his vote at Sagalee, about 137 km from Itanagar, Chief Minister Nabam Tuki said the party would emerge winner in both the Lok Sabha and assembly polls. Tuki was among 11 Congress candidates elected unopposed to the 60-member house.
Governor Lt Gen (Retd) Nirbhay Sharma cast his vote along with his wife Jyotsna Sharma. “I congratulate the people of the state for their peaceful participation in the poll process indicating growth of democracy,” he said. There was a significant turnout of women and first- timer voters in a majority of the polling booths.
Enthusiastic youth flock polling booths in Arunachal
Arunachal Pradesh wore a festive look with enthusiastic youth and women voters flocking polling booths since early morning to cast their votes for the simultaneous Lok Sabha and Assembly polls.
Braving inclement weather after overnight downpour, voters thronged polling booths since 6 AM, an hour before polling, to exercise their franchise in their best outfits. “We want to be a part of the democratic process and prove our importance in decision making,” housewife Supriya Majumdar of Chimpu area said.
Long queues of women and youth could be seen in most of the polling stations waiting patiently for their turn to cast their votes.
Simultaneous polls for two Lok Sabha and 49 of the 60 assembly seats of Arunachal Pradesh kicked-off on a peaceful note on Tuesday.
An electorate of 7,53,170, including 3,77,272 women will cast their votes in 2,158 polling stations in the state. An additional 20 companies of central paramilitary forces besides 24 existing companies have been deployed as well as 8000 policemen to maintain law and order during the polls.
Multi-cornered contest in Meghalaya
Voting was also underway for two Lok Sabha seats in Meghalaya, for the Outer Manipur Lok Sabha seat and for the lone parliamentary seat in Nagaland in the second phase of Lok Sabha elections.
Congress, BJP, former Lok Sabha speaker P A Sangma’s National Peoples Party, regional party United Democratic Party (UDP) besides independents supported by small regional parties will fight it out in a multi-cornered contest in Shillong and Tura seats.
In Shillong a total eight contestants are in the fray, including the sitting Congress MP Vincent Pala, UDP candidate former student leader Paul Lyngdoh, BJP nominee Shibun Lyngdoh besides church leader P B M Basaiawmoit, who is fighting as an independnent.
Congress has won Shillong seat seven times between 1977 and 2009, with an unbroken stint in the seat since 1996.
Of the 15,53,028-strong electorate, 7,83,270 are women and outnumber men by 13, 512.
There are 343 sensitive polling booths out of 2,562, of which 85 per cent are in the militant-hit Garo Hills region and classified as hyper sensitive. Polling stations along the international border with Bangladesh and inter-state border with Assam are also classified as such.
Security has been tightened in Khasi Jaintia Hills region following a 12-hr bandh called by banned HNLC since 5 am today.
Additional forces have been deployed and the BSF has closed the 443 km-long Indo-Bangla international border.
Nagaland to decide CM’s fate
The poll will decide the fate of Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, who is the candidate from his Naga Peoples Front party.
This will be the first time that Nagaland would webcast poll proceedings of 84 stations out of the total 2,059 stations to maintain transparency. Those polling stations can be viewed live through the CEO Nagaland website.
The state has 12 polling stations where vehicular access does not exist. A total 1,475 polling stations have been declared as normal, 407 as vulnerable and 177 as critical. A total of 33 companies of central armed police force have been deployed for peaceful conduct of the elections.
An electorate of 11,82,948, including 5,82,458 women will cast their votes during the day.
Nagaland Armed Police, IR Battalion and around 2,200 village guards, besides five companies of central armed police force have also been deployed to ensure free and fair polls and maintain general law and order.
Nine lakh electorate in Manipur
In Manipur, a total 10 contestants from BJP, Congress, Trinamool Congress, Naga People’s Front, NCP, JD(U) and Aam Admi Party, besides three independents are in the fray. The candidates whose fate will be decided today are sitting Congress MP Thangso Baite, Gangmumei Kamei (BJP), C Doungel (NCP), Kim Gangte (TMC), Soso Lorho (Naga People’s Front), L Gangte (JD-U) and M K Zou (AAP).
An electorate of 9,11,699, of whom 4,63,068 are women, will cast their votes in 511 polling booths.
Polling for the second seat in the state, Inner Manipur constituency (valley districts) will be held on April 17.
(With PTI inputs)