Two northeastern states — Manipur and Nagaland — go to polls on Wednesday, marking the second phase of the staggered nine-phase Lok Sabha elections in the country.
The Election Commission has deferred the balloting to the lone Lok Sabha seat in Mizoram to April 11 considering the three-day shutdown and poll boycott call by NGOs and students' organisations. The polling in the state was earlier scheduled to be held on April 9.
The polling will be held on Wednesday for the lone Lok Sabha seat in Nagaland and one of the two seats in Manipur. Manipur is currently ruled by Congress, and in Nagaland the Naga People's Front (NPF)-led Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN) is in power.
In Manipur, polling will be held for the tribal reserve Outer Manipur seat on April 9 while the Inner Manipur constituency will vote on April 17.
A multi-cornered contest is likely to be witnessed in the Outer Manipur seat as 10 candidates, including a woman, are in the fray.
The ruling Congress has re-nominated its sitting Lok Sabha member Thangso Baite while the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has fielded Gangmumei Kamei, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) Kim Gangte, and the Nationalist Congress Party has fielded Chungkhokai Doungel.
The 51-year-old Kim Gangte of the TMC was the first woman parliamentarian from Manipur to be elected to the Lok Sabha in 1998 as a Communist Party of India (CPI) nominee.
Repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, and development are the major issues in the election this year.
In all, 911,699 voters, including 463,068 women, are eligible to exercise their franchise in 1,406 polling stations in Outer Manipur constituency.
BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi addressed rallies in the state, once ravaged by the terrorism. Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio had campaigned in the hill districts of Senapati and Tamenglong for NPF candidates.
In Nagaland, chief minister Neiphiu Rio will himself fight the Lok Sabha polls against Congress candidate KV Pusa. Rio's NPF is a member of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
Among the three candidates testing the electoral waters, Akhei Achumi is contesting on the Socialist Party (India) ticket.
In all, 1,182,903 voters would cast their ballots in 2,059 polling stations to decide the fate of three candidates in the fray for the lone Lok Sabha seat from Nagaland.
Thirty-three companies of the central para-military force have been deployed to ensure peasceful conduct of the polls.
Tight security measures have been taken in both the northeastern states. Border Security Force, Central Reserve Police Force and Assam Rifles have been deployed in large numbers, said an Election Commission official.
"Helicopters would be pressed into service and mobile surveillance squads would supervise the election," the official.
A poll panel notification said that the polling hours have been fixed in Manipur and Nagaland from 7am to 4pm while in the other northeastern states the polling hours are between 7am and 5pm.