Defying the diktats of militants, over 80 per cent of the total 3.66 lakhs voters exercised their franchise in the third and final phase of the Manipur assembly elections on Friday.
However so far there were no reports of any untoward incidents warranting repolling. The polling was held amidst tight security in 512 polling stations spreading across the three hill districts-Tamenglong, Chandel and Churachandpur and also in Jiribam sub-division following NSCN-K’s ‘poll boycott’ and NSCN-IM’s ‘curfew’ in Tamenglong.
Electorate, mostly women were seen standing in long queues in front of St Paul Institute polling station in Churachandpur which have as many as six assembly constituencies since early morning to vote.
"I came out early to vote for my choice of candidate" says a local resident Neineng. Like Neineng other women voters have their own reasons to vote as early as possible. "My vote may be hijacked if I came late" reasons another lady Tabitha, who was awaiting her turn without having even breakfast, in front of Don Bosco School polling station. It has a total of 2236 voters.
At around 1 pm, over 50 per cent voters cast their votes in this polling station under Churachandpur from where former PCC chief and sitting MLA Phungzathang Tonsing is contesting.
Similar queues of voters were also seen at Selmod Christian College and Lungsephai polling stations in Saikwat. At around 1.20 pm, polling percentage in these two stations crossed 60 per cent. No voters turn up at four polling stations - Makuilong in Tamei ,Tharon in Tamenglong, Kasang and Tuisini under Tengnoupal following indiscriminate firing by suspected militants.
However RR Rashmi while talking to media in Imphal said, "The polling was by and large peaceful except some minor group clashes in Tamenglong." Attempts to damage EVMs took place at New Lamka in this hilly town as well in Chandel few minutes before the end of polling in the evening.
Rashmi however said, "We can’t say anything off hand on re-polling until and unless the presiding officers’ report is arrived". Polling in Jiribam was peaceful except some technical snag on using EVMs while Tamenglong, Nungba and Tamei have recorded over 60 per cent polling at 2 pm.
This final phase of the Manipur elections would decide the fate of 76 candidates including PCC chief Gaikhangam in Nungba, senior congress leader Th Debendra in Jiribam, former speaker TN Haokip in Saikwat, Former MP Kim Gangte in Henglep, Health minister DK Korungthang in Tengnoupal, Hill area committee chairman Songchinkhup in Thanlon.