India's four northeastern states witnessed brisk polling in the Lok Sabha election Wednesday, with Nagaland recording 82.5% voter turnout and Manipur as well as Arunachal Pradesh seeing around 70% balloting. Meghalaya saw almost two-thirds of its voters turn up.
The voting in the four states marked the second phase of the country's 10-phase poll that will see 814 million Indians exercise their franchise to elect 543 members to the Lok Sabha.
Long queues formed at polling booths in these mountainous states as voters enthusiastically turned up to cast their ballot.
An Election Commission official said in Delhi that Nagaland recorded an impressive voter turnout of 82.5% till 4 pm.
Manipur saw 70% voter turnout till 4 pm and there were still long queues, said the official who spoke of a "possibility of 78%" turnout.
In Meghalaya, the voter turnout was 64% with a "possibility of going up to 66%" and in Arunachal Pradesh, it was 71%. Arunachal had last time recorded a voter turnout of 68%. The polling percentage is likely to go up.
While polling was held for two Lok Sabha seats each in Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh, one of the two seats in Manipur and the lone Lok Sabha seat in Nagaland, balloting was also held for 49 seats of the Arunachal assembly.
In Arunachal, around 71% of voters cast their ballot in simultaneous elections to the two Lok Sabha seats and the assembly, even as voting was suspended in four polling booths after miscreants burnt down poll material in Sarli in Kurung Kumey district, state chief electoral officer Chandra Bhushan Kumar said.
Voting in two other polling stations was suspended due to a boycott call by villagers protesting poor road connectivity.
In the assembly polls, 11 Congress candidates, including chief minister Nabam Tuki and two cabinet colleagues Tanga Bayaling and Pema Khandu, have already won without a fight. Hence, voting was held for the remaining 49 seats.
BJP leader Kiren Rijiju is fighting against sitting Congress member Takam Sanjoy from Arunachal West, while union minister and Congress leader Ninong Ering, who is re-contesting from Arunachal East, faces the BJP's Tapir Gao.
In Nagaland, around 82.5% of the over one million electorate cast their votes for the state's lone Lok Sabha constituency. No untoward incident was reported from anywhere in the state, which borders Myanmar.
In the 2009 election, the turnout was around 90%.
Conducive weather helped voters come to the polling stations early. New voters and women were enthusiastic, officials said.
Due to security reasons, polling hours in Nagaland and Manipur was from 7 am to 4 pm, unlike the other northeastern states where votes could be cast between 7 am and 5 pm.
Chief minister and Naga People's Front president Neiphiu Rio was contesting the Lok Sabha poll against Congress candidate KV Pusa.
In Manipur, around 70% of the total 911,699 voters in Outer Manipur Lok Sabha constituency cast their ballot with polling passing off peacefully, officials said.
Police said there were some scuffles between members of rival political parties in Ukhrul and Churachandpur districts.
Voting in the Inner Manipur constituency will be held April 17.
In the last Lok Sabha elections in 2009, the turnout in the state was 77.82%.
The Congress re-nominated sitting member Thangso Baite while the BJP fielded Gangmumei Kamei, the Trinamool Congress Kim Gangte and the Nationalist Congress Party Chungkhokai Doungel.
Meghalaya Wednesday recorded 64% polling as people voted to elect the two Lok Sabha members from Shillong and Tura.
Voting remained peaceful, barring two incidents of suspected insurgents firing blanks near the Tolegre polling booth in South Garo Hills district and wild elephants disrupting movement of officials to two polling booths - Nokchi and Halchatti - under Tura constituency.
In Shillong, there were eight candidates, including the lone woman candidate Ivoryna Shylla, who is fighting as an Independent.
In Tura, former Lok Sabha speaker and National People's Party candidate Purno A. Sangma is pitted against Daryl William Cheran Momin of the Congress.
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Watch: Four northeastern states go to polls under second phase of LS elections
Facts and figures
Nagaland's lone Parliamentary seat will see only three candidates - chief minister Neiphiu Rio (NPF), Congress' KV Pusa and Akheu Achumi of Socialist Party (India) in the race. An electorate of 11,79,881 will be eligible to cast their votes.
Elections will be held on Wednesday in Outer Manipur Lok Sabha seat, one of the two Lok Sabha constituencies in Manipur.
Among the 10 contestants are nominees of BJP, Congress, Trinamool Congress, Naga People's Front, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Janata Dal(U) and Aam Aadmi Party.
Three independents are also in the fray. Prominent candidates are sitting Congress MP Thangso Baite, Gangmumei Kamei (BJP), C Doungel (NCP), Kim Gangte (Trinamool Congress), Soso Lorho (Naga People's Front), L Gangte (JD-U) and MK Zou (AAP).
Out of total electorate of 9,11,699, 4,63,068 are women.
There are 511 polling booths. Polling for the second seat in the state, Inner Manipur constituency will be held on April 17.
In Arunachal Pradesh, Western and Eastern parliamentary constituencies will witness a multi-cornered contest among Congress, BJP, NCP, PPA and independents.
Among the eight candidates in the Western seat are Congress nominee and sitting MP Takam Sanjoy locking horns with former MP Kiren Rijiju, a BJP nominee.
In the Eastern Arunachal Parliamentary seat, Union minister of state for minority affairs Ninong Ering of Congress is contesting against BJP nominee Tapir Gao and Wangman Lowangcha on a People's Party of Arunachal ticket.
Both the Lok Sabha seats have been won by Congress since 1975, but for 2004 when it was won by BJP for the first time.
In Meghalaya, elections will be held for two Lok Sabha seats which will decide the fate of 10 candidates, including National People's Party (NPP) chief PA Sangma, sitting Congress MP Vincent Pala, former student leader Paul Lyngdoh and church leader PBM Basaiawmoit.
The Shillong seat will witness a multi-corner contest among the ruling Congress, the United Democratic Party and an independent candidate supported by two smaller regional parties while
the ruling Congress will contest against the PA Sangma-led NPP for the Tura seat.
PA Sangma held the Tura seat eight out of 10 times while the Congress won the Shillong seat seven times between 1977 and 2009. Since 1996, the Congress candidate has consistently won the Shillong seat.
Of the electorate of 15,53,028, women voters numbering 13,512 are in the majority.
The Election Commission on Tuesday had deferred the polling date for election to the lone Lok Sabha seat in Mizoram and by-poll to Hrangturzo assembly seat to April 11 from April 9 in view of a state-wide bandh called against exercise of franchise by Bru voters lodged in Tripura camps through postal ballots.
However, the Joint NGO Coordination called off its bandh on Tuesday afternoon, saying the EC and the state government have agreed to its demands.
In the first round of voting on Monday, a high turnout of 85% was recorded for one Lok Sabha seat in Tripura, while Assam registered 76% in five seats.
(With PTI and IANS inputs)