IMPHAL, March 4 - Amid incidents of scuffles between supporters of rival parties at few polling booths, Manipur witnessed over 84 per cent polling in 38 constituencies in the first phase of the two-phase Manipur Assembly elections on Saturday.
Saturday�s voter turnout is the highest in the last three elections including two Lok Sabha polls. In 2012 Assembly polls, the first phase polling percentage was 71.
The reason behind the high voters� turnout is because of widespread voters� awareness programmes, said Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Vivek Kumar Dewangan of Manipur Election department. �However, the figure is subject to change as reports from some polling stations are yet to arrive,�
�Altogether 1,079 polling stations (out of 1,643) were covered with live web streaming to monitor activities inside polling stations while remaining 564 recorded offline by smartphones,� CEO Dewangan added. �We have received some complaints for re-polls and it will be examined.�
ECI had appointed 12 general observers, expenditure and police observers besides 258 micro-observers and a total of 8,404 polling personnel were deployed. More than 9,338 police personnel excluding Central para military force personnel were deployed.
BJP which could not win a single seat in the last Assembly polls, is the only party contesting all 60 seats in Manipur while the Congress, which was in power in the outgoing Assembly, is fielding 59 candidates including 37 in first phase poll.
National People's Party(NPP), Trinamool Congress, Nationalist Congress Party, LokJana Shakti, Left parties and Independent candidates are also contesting in the first phase.
The first phase polling which took place at 1,643 polling stations across both hills and valley areas of six districts � Imphal West, Imphal East, Bishnupur, Kangpokpi, Pherzawl and Churachandpur, will decide the fate of 168 candidates including seven women candidates.The key candidates in the first phase poll include Th Lokeshwar, I Hemochandra, AK Mirabai, Govindas Konthoujam, Kh Ratankumar, Ngamthang Haokip, Manga Vaiphei, and Th Shyamkumar (Congress); Y Erabot, N Biren, N Mangi, O Joy, and Th Biswajit (BJP); Phungzathang Tonsing (NPP). In 2012, Indian National Congress won majority of the seats and incumbent Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh was re-elected for the post.
Soon after casting her first vote after nearly two decades, at Khurai constituency, iconic rights activist Irom Sharmila said that she is confident about bringing change in Manipur. She said, �People want to see change and we are confident to bring this change in Manipur. The response from youngsters is also positive. We don�t believe in muscle and money power.�
Sharmila is contesting from Thoubal constituency in the second phase polling which is scheduled to be held across 1,151 polling booths in 10 hill and valley districts, on March 8.