Manipur records 25% early polling in first phase

Brisk 25 per cent polling was reported amid tight security from most of the 38 assembly constituencies in Manipur that voted on Saturday, an official said at 9.30 a.m.

Irom Sharmila, the human rights campaigner, was among those who cast votes early in the morning.

Special provisions were made for senior citizens and the physically challenged to escape long queues.

For the first time, police and state forces were not allowed inside the polling stations.

Longjam Tomba, associated with a candidate, told IANS that this was for the first time that he and his colleagues were not allowed to enter the campus.

He said: “We are on guard duty of a candidate. We had to stay outside while the candidate went inside to cast his vote.”

Rocky Laishram, a police constable, said: “I had gone inside to cast my vote. I was stopped at the main gate and frisked for my service gun.”

Central paramilitary forces personnel were manning all polling stations. No other persons, other than voters, were allowed inside.

A polling officer said: “Usually people come out in large numbers after lunch. We are expecting high polling by 3 p.m. So far there has been no complaint of impersonation or proxy voting.”

Thirty-eight of the 60 Manipur constituencies that were polling for the 11th state legislative assembly on Saturday were spread across Imphal East, Imphal West, Bishnupur, Churachandpur, Kangpokpi and Phezerol districts.

There are 168 candidates in the fray in the first phase, which includes six women.

There are 5,44,050 male and 5,75,220 female voters for the first phase polling. Besides 5169 male and 1915 female service voters are expected to cast votes.

There are 1,643 polling stations.

The Bharatiya Janata Party has fielded candidates to all the 38 constituencies while the ruling Congress has fielded one less.

The election is seen as a major test for the Okram Ibobi Singh-led Congress government in the state which has been in power for the last 15 years.