LS polls: Campaigning ends for 1st phase of voting in 15 constituencies in 8 NE states

Guwahati/Agartala, April 17 (IANS) The campaigning for the first phase of Lok Sabha polls in 15 out of the total 25 Parliamentary constituencies in the eight northeastern states ended on Wednesday, an official said.

Polling will be held in 15 Lok Sabha seats in eight states in the first phase on April 19 (Friday).

In the first phase on Friday, elections will be held in five seats in Assam, all two in Arunachal Pradesh, in Manipur Inner (including partly in Outer Manipur), two seats in Meghalaya, one of the two seats in Tripura, and the sole seats in Nagaland, Mizoram, and Sikkim.

Simultaneous polls in two Lok Sabha seats — Arunachal West and Arunachal East Parliamentary constituencies — along with 50 Assembly seats would be held in the first phase on April 19.

Of the total of 60 Assembly seats in Arunachal Pradesh, BJP candidates in 10 seats including Chief Minister Pema Khandu (Mukto seat) and Deputy Chief Minister Chowna Mein (Chowkham seat), have been elected unopposed.

In Manipur, due to nearly a year-long ethnic violence between Meitei and Kuki-Zomi communities campaigning for the two Lok Sabha seats – Inner Manipur and Outer Manipur — was significantly subdued this time.

Political parties and the candidates did not organise any public meeting – something that was unprecedented in the 75-year electoral history of the northeastern state. Only on April 15, Union Home Minister and senior BJP leader Amit Shah addressed an election rally in Imphal in support of the party candidates.

A total of 10 candidates — six in Inner Manipur and four in Outer Manipur — are contesting the two Lok Sabha seats. The main contest is expected to be held between BJP-Naga People’s Front and the INDIA bloc.

Over 24,500 eligible voters, sheltered in relief camps due to the ethnic violence, would exercise their franchise at 94 special polling stations set up in the relief camps in 10 of the state’s 16 districts.

In Tripura, of the state’s two Lok Sabha seats, election will be held in Tripura West constituency on April 19 and altogether nine candidates are trying their electoral fortunes.

In the politically crucial Tripura West seat, the main contest is expected between former Tripura Chief Minister and BJP candidate Biplab Kumar Deb, and state unit Congress president Asish Kumar Saha, of the INDIA bloc.

The by-election to the Ramnagar Assembly seat will also be held on April 19. The seat fell vacant after the demise of sitting BJP MLA Surajit Datta on December 28 last year.

Two candidates, one each of the BJP and the CPI-M, are trying their electoral fortunes in the Ramnagar Assembly by-poll.

In Nagaland, unlike 2019, the state’s sole Lok Sabha seat is set to witness a triangular contest between candidates of the ruling Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP), the Congress, and an Independent.

The NDPP, which is leading the opposition-less People’s Democratic Alliance government, nominated Chumben Murry while the Congress fielded S. Supongmeren Jamir. Independent candidate Hayithung Tungoe Lotha is also contesting in the seat.

In Mizoram, six candidates including a woman are contesting for the lone Parliamentary seat in the state.

The ruling Zoram People’s Movement, which is contesting the Lok Sabha election for the first time, has put up entrepreneur Richard Vanlalhmangaiha. The Opposition — Mizo National Front — fielded its sitting Rajya Sabha member K. Vanlalvena while the Congress nominated Lalbiakzama and the BJP put up its state President Vanlalhmuaka.

The lone female nominee Rita Malsawmi, a singer and lyricist, was fielded by the Mizoram People’s Conference while one Independent candidate is vying for the Mizoram Lok Sabha seat, reserved for the tribals.

Congress candidate Lalbiakzama (64) is a former police officer and Mizoram’s ex-Home Secretary.

On the advice of the Election Commission, the Ministry of Home Affairs has provided thousands of Central Armed Police Force personnel comprising Border Security Force, Central Reserve Police Force, and other para-military forces to manage the law and order situation during the elections.

–IANS

sc/pgh

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