Kohima, Feb 27 (IANS) Over 83.36 per cent of Nagaland’s 13.16 lakh voters cast their votes on Monday in the Assembly polls, held in 59 of the 60 constituencies amid a massive security blanket, election officials said.
Polling percentage was 83.85 in the 2018 Assembly polls, and the 2023 turnout is likely to increase after compilation of the reports of all the Returning Officers, the officials said.
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According to election officials, voting was largely peaceful across the northeastern state except for some incidents of violence in five districts — Mokokchung. Wokha, Mon, Zunheboto and Tseminyu.
In Akuk village under the Bhandari Assembly constituency in Wokha district, supporters of a candidate attacked the rival party workers using sharp-edged weapons in which three persons were injured. Firing by underground militants, and stone pelting by rival party workers also reported in Wokha and Mon districts injuring five people, including two security personnel.
Chief Electoral Officer, V. Shashank Shekhar, briefing the media on Monday night, said that the law and order situation all over the state was largely peaceful and polling has been successfully completed in all the 2,315 polling stations.
Voting started at 7 a.m. in 2,315 polling stations, manned by 11,500 staff, and enedd at 4 p.m.
The CEO said that around 13.16 lakh voters, including 6,55,144 women, were slated to decide the electoral chances of 183 candidates, including four women. In the 2018 Assembly polls, 190 candidates, including five women, had contested.
BJP candidate Kazheto Kinimi was re-elected unopposed from the Akuluto Assembly constituency after his only opponent and Congress nominee Khekashe Sumi withdrew his candidature.
To ensure a free, fair and violence-free election, the Union Home Ministry, at the request of the state government, had provided 305 companies of Central Armed Police Forces, while the state security forces have also been deployed across the mountainous state.
As many as 12 parties comprising national and state parties are in the fray. The ruling Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party and its ally Bharatiya Janata Party, and the opposition Congress and the Naga People’s Front (NPP) are the main contenders in the poll battle.
The Congress, which governed the state till 2003, has fielded 23 candidates, while the Naga People’s Front is contesting 22 seats. Other parties, including the RJD, Ram Vilas Paswan faction of the LJP, National People’s Party headed by Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma, and the NCP were also in the fray. There were 19 independent candidates as well.
Chief Minister and senior NDPP leader Neiphiu Rio (Northern Angami-II), Deputy Chief Minister and BJP legislature party leader Yanthungo Patton (Tyui), former Chief Minister Taditui Rangkau Zeliang (Peren), Nagaland unit BJP president Temjen Imna Along (Alongtaki), Nagaland Congress President Kewekhape Therie (Dimapur) are seeking re-election.
Non settlement of decades old Naga political imbroglio, demand for a separate state of ‘Frontier Nagaland’, unemployment, illegal drugs menace, besides various anti-incumbency factors were the main issues in the elections.
The counting of votes will be held in Nagaland on March 2 along with Meghalaya and Tripura.