75% polling in Nagaland, 67% in Meghalaya: Top 10 developments

Khasi tribe women show their ink-marked finger after casting their votes during the State Assembly elections, in Ri-Bohi district of Meghalaya on Tuesday. Photo: PTI
The voting in two Assembly elections in North Eastern states ended at 4 pm on Tuesday where over 67 per cent votes were polled in Meghalaya while Nagaland witnessed 75 per cent turnout, the PTI reported.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress are slugging it out to see who will emerge as the more dominant party in the Northeast.

Earlier during the polling in Nagaland, one person was killed and two others injured after clashes erupted between groups of the Naga People's Front and Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party near a polling booth in Akuluto.

Meanwhile, in Meghalaya, there reportedly were a "large number" of VVPAT (Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail) machines that malfunctioned, according to officials.

Despite security being beefed up, one person was injured in a bomb blast at a polling station in Mon District's Tizit in Nagaland earlier on Tuesday morning.

Nagaland CM TR Zeliang has said that he will move towards a Naga political solution after the state polls are concluded.

The two states have a 60-member House each. However, voting will be held only for 59 constituencies in each. Voting for the 60-member Assemblies commenced from 7 am and conclude by 4 pm, except at some polling stations in Nagaland's interior districts where the process was scheduled to be completed at 3 pm.

The results of the polls in the two states, along with that of Tripura, will be declared on Saturday, March 3.

Here are the top 10 developments in the crucial Meghalaya and Nagaland Assembly polls:

1) Meghalaya voter turnout: Over 67 per cent votes were polled till 4 pm in Meghalaya Assembly election on Tuesday, an election official said.

"Till 4 pm, over 67 per cent of the 18.09 lakh voters in the state cast their votes. Polling was peaceful," Chief Election Officer F R Kharkongor told PTI.

He said polling percentage is likely to go up as long queues were reported in a number of polling stations even after the polling was scheduled to close at 4 pm.

In the last Assembly elections in 2013, about 88 per cent polling was recorded.

Women holding children, show their ink-marked fingers after casting their votes for the state Assembly elections, at a polling station at Byrnihat, Meghalaya on Tuesday. Photo: PTI
2) Nagaland voter turnout: According to the Election Commission, 75 per cent of the 11 lakh voters in Nagaland came out to cast their vote in the assembly elections, PTI reported.

When voting ended at 4 pm, voters were seen standing in queues outside polling stations, indicating that the poll percentage will go up.

According to rules, those in queues are allowed to cast their votes.

In the last assembly elections, the voting percentage was recorded at a remarkable 90 per cent, Deputy Election Commissioner Sudip Jain told reporters here.

 
3) One person killed in Nagaland: In Nagaland, one person was killed and two others injured after clashes erupted between groups of the Naga People's Front and Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party near a polling booth in Akuluto. According to news agencies, the polling process was not disturbed. 

#Nagaland: 1 person dead, 2 injured after clash erupted between groups of Naga People's Front and Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party near a polling booth in Akuluto. The polling process was not disturbed.

— ANI (@ANI) February 27, 2018

2) Meghalaya voters face many VVPAT malfunctions: As polling continued, Meghalaya saw a "large number" of malfunctions related to VVPAT machines. "There was a large number of VVPAT (Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail) machines that malfunctioned, but they were replaced immediately to ensure smooth conduct of the polls," Meghalaya's Chief Electoral Officer, Frederick Roy Kharkongor, told news agencies.  

"Voting is going on peacefully so far and the enthusiasm has been very encouraging in some areas, voting was on at a brisk pace. There has been no report of poll-related violence," Kharkongor added. 

38% voter turnout recorded in #Nagaland and 20% voter turnout recorded in #Meghalaya till 11 am.

— ANI (@ANI) February 27, 2018
3) Naga political solution after polls: Speaking to news agencies, Nagaland CM TR Zeliang said, "We expect that polling will finish smoothly and we will get absolute majority according to the voice of the people. We hope peace will prevail in the state and we will move for Naga political solution."

We expect that polling will finish smoothly & we will get absolute majority as per voice of the people. We hope peace will prevail in the state & we will move for Naga political solution: Nagaland CM TR Zeliang #NagalandElection2018 pic.twitter.com/SssyvKQP3J

— ANI (@ANI) February 27, 2018
A young voter shows his finger marked with indelible ink after he cast his vote during Nagaland Assembly elections, in Dimapur on Tuesday. Photo: PTI
4) Bomb blast at Nagaland polling station: One person was injured in a bomb blast at a polling station in Mon District's Tizit, in Nagaland. 

One person injured in a bomb blast in a polling station Mon District's Tizit, #Nagaland . pic.twitter.com/g1EaiwqYbC

— ANI (@ANI) February 27, 2018

According to reports, the bomb was handmade and was hurled at the polling station in the wee hours of Tuesday morning. However, the polling processes are continuing at the station.  

5) Voting underway in both states: Meghalaya saw 27.75 per cent voter turnout and Nagaland saw 56 per cent as on 1 pm on Tuesday.

Voter turnout till till 1 pm- #Meghalaya: 27.75% ; #Nagaland: 56%

— ANI (@ANI) February 27, 2018

Amid tight security, voting for the Meghalaya Assembly elections 2018 began on Tuesday, an official said. "Men and women in large numbers queued up in front of many polling stations well before polling opened at 7 am in the entire state. Polling ends at 4 pm," Chief Electoral Officer Frederick Roy Kharkongor said. 

According to agency reports, women voters, in their colourful tribal attire, were seen queueing up at polling stations across the state since morning and shops in the vicinity did brisk business.  

Voting underway at Shillong model polling station North; Congress' Roshan Warjri is the sitting MLA from North Shillong. #MeghalayaElection2018 pic.twitter.com/S7LZdRg6Ji

— ANI (@ANI) February 27, 2018

Amid tight security, Assembly elections to the 60-member Nagaland Assembly began at 7 am on Tuesday, as more than half of the 2,156 polling stations have been declared critical.

#NagalandElection2018: Voting underway at a polling station in Peren district's Jalukie pic.twitter.com/1YzSVzdMJo

— ANI (@ANI) February 27, 2018

After a slight delay due to issues with the EVM, voting began at Shillong model polling station North for the Meghalaya Assembly elections 2018, news agency ANI reported. Congress' Roshan Warjri is the sitting MLA from North Shillong.

Voting begins at Shillong model polling station North after it was delayed due to issues with the EVM. #MeghalayaElection2018 pic.twitter.com/mUDTh8nwNM

— ANI (@ANI) February 27, 2018

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday urged the people of Nagaland and Meghalaya to come out and vote in large numbers for the Assembly elections.

I urge the people of Meghalaya and Nagaland to vote in large numbers in the Assembly Elections taking place today.

— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) February 27, 2018

6) Voting only in 59 constituencies in both states: While the two states have a 60-member House each, voting will be held for only 59 constituencies each.  

In the case of Meghalaya, the Assembly election has been countermanded in Williamnagar. This comes in the wake of the killing of NCP candidate Jonathone N Sangma, who died in an IED blast in the East Garo Hills district on February 18. While in Nagaland, NDPP chief Neiphiu Rio has been declared elected unopposed from the Northern Angami-II constituency.  

7) BJP leaving no stone unturned to push Congress out: This time around, the BJP appears to be leaving no stone unturned to push the Congress out of power and add Meghalaya to its kitty. The BJP's push in the north-east, which has traditionally been a Congress stronghold with the saffron party being a marginal player, is being keenly watched by political observers. 

The Congress and the BJP are pitted against each other in Meghalaya. The Congress has fielded 59 candidates, while the BJP has put up nominees in 47 constituencies. 

Even though they are contesting the Assembly elections separately in Meghalaya, the National People's Party (NPP) of Conrad Sangma, son of former Lok Sabha speaker P A Sangma, is the BJP's partner in the North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA). 

The BJP's hope hinges on its alliance partner, Neiphiu Rio's Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP), in Nagaland. The NDPP is contesting from 40 seats. The BJP has fielded candidates from the remaining 20 seats. 

For its part, the Congress, which has given three chief ministers to Nagaland, is contesting from only 18 seats, two less than the BJP. 

8) Vital numbers for Meghalaya and Nagaland: There are 370 candidates in the fray in Meghalaya. A total of 1.84 million (18.4 lakh) voters are eligible to exercise their franchise.  

Meghalaya's Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) F R Kharkongor said that for the first time, 67 all-women polling stations and 61 model polling stations were set up in the state. Kharkongor added that 32 women candidates were in the fray, the highest ever in the state. 

In Nagaland, a total of 1,191,513 voters -- 601,707 (50.50 per cent) men and 589,806 (49.50 per cent) women -- will exercise their franchise. There are also 5,925 service voters. 

Voting will be conducted in 2,156 polling stations as 40 polling stations fall under the Northern Angami-II seat, from where Rio has been declared elected unopposed. 

Over 15,000 government employees will be on poll duty and there will be 177 all-women polling stations across 25 constituencies in the state.  

9) CAPF companies deployed: To ensure secure and peaceful polling, 281 companies of the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF), along with the state police force, have been deployed throughout Nagaland.  

Nagaland's CEO Abhijit Sinha said that all the polling stations would be manned by the CAPF personnel and the state police would be assisting them. 

Of the 2,156 polling stations in Nagaland, 1,100 have been declared critical, 530 vulnerable, and 526 normal, Sinha added.

Speaking to news agencies, Meghalaya's CEO said that six of the 10 additional CAPF companies were deployed in the troubled East and South Garo Hills districts.   

10) Meghalaya polls turn into a family affair: The Meghalaya Assembly elections might become a family affair. Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma, who is contesting from Ampati and Songsak seats, has three family members in the fray from the Garo Hills region. Meanwhile, National People's Party (NPP) candidates and relatives of former Lok Sabha speaker Purno A Sangma are also fighting the polls from four seats in the region. 

In 2013, along with Mukul Sangma, his wife DD Shira and his brother Zenith Sangma won the election, bagging the Mahendraganj and Rangsakona seats. Both Shira and Zenith Sangma are seeking a re-election from their respective seats. Further, Zenith's wife, Sadhiarani M Sangma, is also making her electoral debut this year from the Gambegre seat.  

As for Mukul's rivals, the NPP president Conrad K Sangma, his brother James and their sister Agatha K Sangma, a former Union minister in the UPA-II government, are also a force to reckon with. Conrad K Sangma, son of P A Sangma, had won the 2016 by-elections from the Tura parliamentary seat with a thumping majority after his father's demise. He is currently a sitting MP in Lok Sabha.

His sister is contesting from the South Tura constituency, while his brother is seeking re-election from the Dadenggre seat. Boston Marak, a cousin of Conrad K Sangma, is also contesting the election on a Garo National Council ticket from Salmanpara seat. Sanjay A Sangma, Conrad's brother-in-law, is taking on the Chief Minister's wife from Mahendraganj.

    
With agency inputs


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