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Sunday, Nov 17, 2019

Lok Sabha elections 2019: BJP, Congress locked in a straight poll contest in Assam and Manipur

Polling was largely peaceful in the six constituencies of Assam and Manipur that voted on Thursday other than stray incidents of violence and glitches involving electronic voting machines (EVM).

lok-sabha-elections Updated: Apr 18, 2019 23:37 IST
HT Correspondents
HT Correspondents
Hindustan Times, Guwahati
Indian men check electrical lighting signboard of Indian Congress Party (R) and Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) at a workshop in Ahmedabad on April 3, 2019.
Indian men check electrical lighting signboard of Indian Congress Party (R) and Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) at a workshop in Ahmedabad on April 3, 2019. (AFP file photo)
         

Polling was largely peaceful in the six constituencies of Assam and Manipur that voted on Thursday other than stray incidents of violence and glitches involving electronic voting machines (EVM). Former chief minister and senior Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) leader, Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, abstained from voting in protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill being pushed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The voter turnout was 76.42% in Assam, and 77.86% in Inner Manipur constituency. By 3pm, 63.6% votes were polled in Karimganj, 57% in Silchar, 62.7% in Autonomous District and 62.7% in Mangaldoi.

“Polling has been peaceful so far. We will know details of complaints of EVM malfunction only after polling parties return,” said MC Sahu, chief electoral officer of Assam.

PK Singh, chief electoral officer of Manipur, said, “There have been one or two cases of violence. We are waiting for more details.” At one place in Imphal East district, security forces had to fire in the air after clashes.

Gaikhangam, president of the Manipur Congress, claimed unlawful activities by the ruling BJP and said the party would demand a repoll in at least eight polling stations.

The five seats in Assam and the lone seat in Manipur is crucial for the BJP, which, fearing losses in north India, aims to better its tally in the northeast.

Apart from two seats in Assam, Congress won the Inner Manipur constituency in 2014.

Th Biswajit, a minister in the BJP-led state government, said people were supporting the BJP for the good work done by the Centre. The Congress claimed it had an upper hand with better organisational structure and support from the people.

In Silchar in Barak valley, Soumen Choudhary, a lawyer, said, “I voted to save democracy, which is under threat from the ruling dispensation, but a lot of people from the majority community voted for the BJP for its stand on the CAB and development work in Barak valley.”

Four of the five constituencies in Assam have a sizeable number of Muslim voters and, with Badruddin Ajmal’s All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) not contesting, there could be a straight contest between the Congress and the BJP.