Moderate to brisk voting in northeast (Lead)

Guwahati, April 16 (Inditop) Moderate to brisk polling was recorded in the first three hours of voting Thursday for the first phase of parliamentary elections in India’s northeastern region amid heavy security, officials said.

“By and large voting is going on peacefully with moderate to brisk polling recorded in all the 10 parliamentary seats in the northeast,” an election official said.

People in large numbers queued up in front of polling stations well before voting began at 7 a.m. in 10 of the region’s 24 parliamentary constituencies.

Voting is being held in three parliamentary seats of Silchar, Karimganj and Autonomous District in Assam, two seats each in Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya, and one seat each in Nagaland, Manipur, and Mizoram.

An estimated 7.45 million voters are eligible to exercise their franchise in the first phase of elections in the six of the seven northeastern states. The electoral fortunes of 72 candidates would be decided in Thursday’s vote.

“Enthusiasm among is particularly encouraging in Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland, while polling is gradually picking up in Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur,” the election official said.

In Assam, a polling official at Howraghat in Karbi Anglong district of Assam slit his throat with a blade just as voting opened.

“The poll official is admitted to a hospital and his condition is stated to be serious. It could be probably some personal reasons that prompted him to attempt suicide,” the election official said.

In Silchar in Assam, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate Kabindra Purkayastha complained of a defective electronic voting machine (EVM) in one of the polling stations.

“We are looking into the complaint and necessary action would be taken,” the official said.

The battle lines are drawn with the Congress party in almost all the six northeastern states taking on either regional parties or the main opposition BJP.

Authorities have deployed nearly 30,000 police and paramilitary troopers for the polls.

“Adequate security arrangements were being made to ensure polling passes off peacefully,” the official said.