Despite heavy security arrangements and sporadic incidents of violence, Manipur in the first phase of elections to 38 of the 60 Assembly seats reported 78.03 per cent voter turnout, election officials said.
Of the five districts, where the first phase of elections were held, highest percentage of 82.19 per cent voters cast their votes in Imphal West and Kangpokpi districts followed by 76.64 per cent in Imphal East, 74.45 per cent in Churachandpur and 73.44 per cent in Bishnupur district. Police officials in Imphal said that at least one person was injured in a clash between the workers of two rival political parties in Churachandpur district.
Clashes and attacks were also reported in different places of Imphal East, Imphal West and Kangpokpi districts, but the security forces swiftly tackled the situation by mobilising additional forces.
An EVM was damaged by some people at Singhat and it was later replaced. Congress workers allegedly damaged a polling booth in Kakwa area in Langthabal constituency in Imphal West district, while a vehicle of a National People’s Party candidate was damaged by workers by the members of the rival group in Keirao seat, though none was injured in the incident.
Congress and BJP candidates and leaders made allegations and counter allegations of intimidation and vandalisation of party election booths and resorting to violence. The officials said that there was an incident of firing by some miscreants at Phunal Maring Polling Station. However, details of the incident are still awaited.
Election officials said that a Manipur police Havildar Naorem Ibochouba Singh died due to suspected accidental firing from his service weapon in Kakching District.
Amidst the favourable weather, men and women, including the young voters in large numbers queued up in front of the polling stations much before the scheduled voting time of 7 a.m. Polling continued till 4 p.m. without any break and in a few polling stations, voters were seen in queues even as the official hours ended.
Manipur Governor La Ganesan, Chief Minister N. Biren Singh, Deputy Chief Minister Y. Joykumar, Speaker Y. Khemchand, state Congress President N. Loken were among those who cast their votes at the early hours at their respective polling stations.
Singh, who is contesting from the Heingang assembly constituency against Congress nominee Pangeijam Saratchandra Singh, said that the BJP would secure 30 plus seat in the first phase of elections.
Monday’s first phase of polling decided the fate of 173 candidates, including 15 women contestants. The aspirants include Chief Minister and BJP candidate N. Biren Singh, his cabinet colleague Thongam Biswajit Singh, NPP candidate and Deputy Chief Minister Yumnam Joykumar Singh, senior BJP leader Thokchom Satyabrata Singh, Congress’ Ratankumar Singh, Lokeshwar Singh, Saratchandra Singh, sitting party MLA Akoijam Mirabai Devi.
Firebrand women leader and Janata Dal (United) candidate Thounaojam Brinda, who was the Additional Superintendent of Police (Headquarters), is also contesting from the Yaiskul constituency.
Covid-19 protocols for the polling personnel and voters including, use of face masks, sanitiser, social distancing and thermal screening were duly followed. A senior Election Commission official said that there are 10,041 physically challenged electors (PwD) and 251 centenarian voters were in these 38 Assembly constituencies.
The official said that 381 polling stations were fully managed by all women polling personnel.