IMPHAL, April 11 - Polling in the Outer Manipur Parliamentary constituency which went to the first phase of Lok Sabha polls today was largely peaceful.
Voting began at 7 am Thursday amidst tight security and was continuing till late in the afternoon. Initially, the turnout was not thin in most of the polling stations including those visited by this reporter in Kangpokpi and Senapati districts. The poll percentage recorded till 9 am was 15.6, but picked up as the day progressed.
�Till 5 pm, the polling percentage was 78.20. However, in many places there were long lines of voters at close of poll hour at 4 pm,� Chief Electoral Officer PK Singh said. �The final figure will be known only after all polling parties reach back�, he added.
The polling was held at 1,562 polling stations, including all polling stations of Churachandpur Assembly constituency and other model polling stations in other districts managed by only women polling officials, across 28 Assembly constituencies under 12 districts of the State.
Polling was also organised at the designated camps where Kuki militant groups, who are under suspension of operation with the government, are lodged.
Altogether, 10,10,618 electorates, including 5,15,022 women and 4,95,583 men, are eligible to exercise their franchise in the first phase to decide the electoral fate of eight candidates.
However, political observers here feel that the main contest in the first phase would be between BJP candidate Benjamin Mate, Naga People�s Front (NPF) candidate Dr Lorho S Pfoze and Congress candidate K James.
The other candidates in the fray are Thangminlien Kipgen of National People�s Party, Ashang Kashar of North East India Development Party, Hangkhanpau of Janata Dal (U), Angam K Kom of Nationalist Congress Party and Independent candidate Laikham Kaipu.
In 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Thangso Baite of Congress won the seat by defeating his nearest rival Soso Lorho of NPF by a margin of 15,637 votes.
The ruling BJP which formed its government here in March 2017, is confident of winning the Outer Manipur seat this time on the ground that they have more MLAs. But Congress is not ready to accept it saying that the election this time is not between Congress and BJP, but the people and BJP.