Quarter of voters cast ballot in Manipur

Imphal, April 17: Nearly a quarter of voters cast their ballot Thursday in the first two hours of polling in the second Lok Sabha seat in Manipur, an official said.

Balloting took place in the Inner Manipur constituency with no untoward incident reported so far, election officials said.

Around 22 percent voters cast their ballot till 9 a.m.

On April 9, about 78 percent of the total 911,000 voters in the tribal reserved Outer Manipur constituency cast their ballot.

Around 874,000 voters, including 448,000 women, are eligible to vote in the second phase at 1,406 polling stations.

“No untoward incident reported so far in any of the four mountainous districts — Imphal East, Imphal West, Bishenpur, and Thoubal – where the elections are being held,” an Election Commission official told reporters adding that the balloting was peacefull until now.

He said: “Over 12,000 central para-military forces and state security personnel have been deployed in the election bound districts.”

Eight candidates including a woman, are in the fray to test their electoral fortune in Inner Manipur seat.

Once ravaged by terrorism, Manipur still suffers from militancy, but the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, (AFSPA) continues to be one of the major issues with development.

The main contest is between the Congress’s incumbent Lok Sabha member Thokchom Meinya Singh, Moirangthem Nara Singh of the Communist Party of India (CPI), and R.K. Ranjan Singh, former Manipur University professor, of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Meinya Singh, who is seeking re-election for the third consecutive term, defeated Nara Singh of the CPI in the 2009 polls.

The Trinamool Congress, headed by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, has fielded Sarangthem Manaobi, a former police officer.

BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi addressed rallies in the state. Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio also campaigned.

For security reasons, polling hours in Manipur will be from7 a.m. to 4 p.m, unlike in the other northeastern states where votes could be cast between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Now ruled by Congress, Manipur, once a princely state, shares an unfenced border of around 400 km with Myanmar.

IANS