II Phase : Heavy turn out outshines incessant February rainfall
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, February 14: Notwithstanding the incessant rain since last night, the second phase of polling in Imphal East, Imphal West and Bishnupur districts recorded 85-90 percent turn out at 5 pm today, informed Chief Electoral Officer RR Rashmi.

Contrary to the general anticipation, there was no report of any untoward incident in all the polling stations of the three districts except for some sporadic commotion amongst workers of rival candidates.

However repoll is likely to be ordered at 6/5 Kiyamgei Awang Leikai LP School in Keirao AC after some women snatched the EVM at about 4 pm.

Interestingly the incident occured even as Chief Minister O Ibobi and sitting MLA Allauddin Khan were outside the poling booth.

Till the time of filing this report, the EVM could not be traced, though police have launched a massive hunt for the same.

The presiding officer is yet to submit a formal report on the incident to the RO and once the report is submitted a report will be sent to the ECI for a repoll, said an official source.

The DEO of Imphal East, KK Chettry on being contacted said that an FIR has been lodged and added �We are recommending repoll�.

The repoll, if held, will be conducted on February 16. Briefing the media, the CEO said the peaceful conduct of the poll is remarkable achievement for the security forces as well as for the State administration, and added, "I must congratulate the people for braving the incessant rain and turned out in large numbers to exercise their franchise".

Disclosing that so far there has been no complaint for re-polling in any of the polling stations, Rashmi expected that all the poll parties would be able to reach their respective district head quarters by tonight.

Security forces for the third and final phase of polling covering Chandel, Tamenglong and Churachandpur districts in addition to Jiribam sub-division would be leaving for their respective areas two days ahead of the scheduled date.

Unlike the pattern of security deployment in the first and second phases of polling, for the third phase of polling security forces will man the polling stations besides conducting area domination beyond these polling stations.

Elaborating on the pattern, the CEO disclosed that the security personnel who would man the polling stations will remain there on static duty, while others would keep watch up to certain areas beyond the polling stations.

As such, the security level for the final phase of polling will go up, he mentioned.

Responding to a query, the CEO said that adequate number of helicopters would be utilised for transportation of poll material to far flung areas, adding that the State Election Office has already identified certain polling stations as hyper-sensitive.

Following inundation of two polling stations at Wangkhei and another one at Sagolband due to the incessant rain, the polling stations were shifted to nearby buildings with the consent of the owners, added the CEO.

With the exception of technical snags that necessitated replacement of eight EVMs in polling stations of Imphal West, four in Bishnupur and two in Imphal East district no poll-related incident like booth capturing, scuffle etc were reported from all the 827 polling stations where the electorates sealed the fate of 155 candidates today.

Imphal East district with 10 ACs polled 86 pc while polling percentage in Imphal West and Bishnupur districts having 13 and six ACs respectively was tied at 84 pc each.

The total number of ACs in Imphal East is 11 but polling in Jiribam sub-division of the district will be held in the third and final phase along with Chandel, Tamenglong and CCpur district which is slated for February 23.Total number of voters in Imphal East, Imphal West and Bishnupur district is 7,39,658 out of which 3,88,925 are females.

Apart from three former CMs, atleast two former Speakers and top functionaries of political organisations were in fray in the second phase election.

Inspite of apprehension that steady unseasonal drizzle since midnight might dampen the enthusiasm of the electors and force them to stay indoors, there was no sign of let-up in the polling stations as voters queued up with rain protection gears at their respective polling booths from early morning and till the voting hours which had to be extended as the number of voters were relentless.

The high voting percentage could also be attributed to supporters and political workers using motor vehicles to transport �identified voters� from even not very far distance.

Even the sick and aged voters could be seen carried to the polling centres that opened from 7 am but entertained voting well beyond the closing hour of 3.30 pm.

On the otherhand, the fact that no major incident had been reported so far could be attributed to stringent security arrangement, never witnessed before, made for the democratic exercise.

It may be mentioned that all the polling stations where votes were cast today were either declared as hyper sensitive or categorised as sensitive thereby implying that were no normal polling centre in the three district.

The ruling Congress fielded candidates in all the 29 ACs, followed by MPP at 25, RJD and NCP at 17 each and CPI at 16, BJP nine, as CPM accounted for one while the Samajwadi Party and others fielded 13 political aspirants.

After the third and final phase polling on February 23 counting would begin on February 27.