Stray incidents of violence marred the first phase of Manipur assembly elections to 38 constituencies on Monday as 78.03 per cent of around 12.09 lakh voters exercised their franchise till 5 PM when polling ended, an hour after the time announced earlier, officials said.
Naorem Ibochouba, a state police personnel deployed for poll duty in Tipaimukh assembly constituency in Churachandpur district, died in a “suspected case of accidental firing” from his service rifle, Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Rajesh Agarwal said.
The highest voter turnout of 82.97 per cent was recorded in Kangpokpi district followed by Imphal West (82.19 per cent), Imphal East (76.64 per cent) and Churachandpur (74.45 per cent), the officials said.
The final percentage will be available after the return of the polling parties.
Voting at 1721 polling stations was more or less peaceful except for stray incidents of violence as EVMs were damaged by miscreants at Saitu, Henglep and Singhat constituencies.
FIRs were registered in the incidents of EVM damage in seven polling stations, the CEO said.
As there were complaints that the pace of polling was slow in certain booths, those who came before 4 pm were allowed to cast their votes, Agarwal said.
A polling staff died of haemorrhagic stroke in Tipaimukh constituency, he said.
At least one person was injured in a clash between two political parties in Churachandpur district.
Alleged Congress workers vandalised a BJP polling booth in Kakwa area in Langthabal constituency in Imphal West district, while a vehicle of an NPP candidate was damaged by supporters of a rival group in Keirao assembly seat, although nobody was injured in the incident.
Security forces fired in the air to control the crowd at New Keithelmanbi polling station in Kangpokpi district. The situation arose after Congress accused BJP of attempting to capture the booth.
Prominent candidates in the fray in the first phase of the elections include the chief minister, Assembly Speaker Y Khemchand Singh, Deputy Chief Minister and NPP candidate Yumnam Joykumar and Manipur Congress president N Lokesh Singh.
Of the 38 seats, 10 constituencies are in Imphal East, 13 in Imphal West, six each in Bishnupur and Churachandpur, and three in Kangpokpi district. Nine seats are reserved for Scheduled Tribes and one for Scheduled Castes.
All-women personnel are conducting voting in 381 polling stations. PWD personnel are manning a polling station in Saikot assembly seat in Churachandpur.
The BJP has fielded candidates in all the 38 seats, followed by Congress with 35 contestants, NPP with 27, JD (U) with 28, Shiv Sena with seven, RPI (Athawale) with six, LJP (Ram Vilas) with three, and Kuki National Assembly and Kuki People’s Alliance with two each. Eighteen Independents are also in the fray.
Congress had on Sunday night expelled its candidate in Wangoi constituency, Salam Joy Singh, from the primary membership of the party on disciplinary grounds.
The BJP had formed the government in Manipur in 2017 with the support of the National People’s Party (NPP), Naga People’s Front (NPF), and the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP). However, the saffron party is contesting all the seats alone this time.
The Congress has formed an alliance with CPI, CPI(M), Forward Bloc, RSP and Janata Dal (Secular). The grand old party had emerged as the single largest party winning 28 of the 60 seats in the 2017 state polls.
The voting for the remaining 22 seats in the 60-member House will take place in the second phase on March 5 while the counting of votes will be held on March 10.
All polling stations were sanitised and circles marked outside polling booths to enable voters to maintain social distancing while standing in a queue.