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Northeastern states see moderate voter turnout in 1st phase of elections 2019

The tribal female voters displaying identity cards, at a polling booth at Ri-Bhoi district on Thursday. (ANI Photo)Premium
The tribal female voters displaying identity cards, at a polling booth at Ri-Bhoi district on Thursday. (ANI Photo)

  • The important Lok Sabha contests include those of BJP’s Kiren Rijiju’s in Arunachal west and the two Sangmas’
  • This comes in the backdrop of the BJP’ plans to pick up Lok Sabha seats in the North-East to make up for any shortfall it may face in national polls

New Delhi: Elections for the 14 of the 25 Lok Sabha seats from the eight North Eastern states in the first phase on Thursday were a peaceful affair. Apart from the elections for the 17th Lok Sabha, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim today also chose their representatives for their respective state assemblies.

As of 5 pm on Thursday, the voter turnout was 69%, 60% and 78% in Sikkim, Mizoram and Nagaland respectively. The highest turnout among the North Eastern states was in Tripura with 81.8% of voters exercising their voting rights for choosing their representative for the 17th Lok Sabha, according to the data shared by the Election Commission of India.

The voter turnout was 78.2%, 68%, 66% and 67.16% in Manipur, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya respectively.

Of the 14 Lok Sabha seats for which voting is underway in the first phase; Assam accounts for 5 seats, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya for two seats each, with Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura accounting for one seat each. While Arunachal Pradesh has 60 assembly constituency seats, Sikkim has 32 assembly seats.

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The important Lok Sabha contests include those of BJP’s Kiren Rijiju’s in Arunachal west and the two Sangmas’ – former chief minister and Congressman Mukul Sangma vs NPP’s Agatha Sangma -- in Meghalaya. Agatha is the sister of current chief minister Conrad Sangma, both children of late Purno Sangma. Rijiju is locked in a three-cornered contest with NPP, BJP’s ally in NEDA, fielding Khyoda Apik against him. The Union Minister also has to contend with Congressman and former CM Nabam Tuki. In Nagaland, the state’s largest party, NPF, has decided to stay out and support Congress’ K.L. Chishi against BJP ally NDPP’s Tokheho Yepthomi.

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Resentment against contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 (CAB) has also gained traction and is a major issue in the region after BJP in its manifesto reaffirmed its commitment towards passing it. The Bill, which aims to provide citizenship to people forced to seek shelter in India because of religious persecution or fear of persecution in their home countries, had sparked violence in the North-East. The North Eastern political parties have hit out at the centre, claiming that the bill is at cross-purposes with the National Register of Citizens (NRC), which seeks to wean out illegal immigrants who have come from Bangladesh and other adjoining countries.

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This comes in the backdrop of the BJP’ plans to pick up Lok Sabha seats in the North-East to make up for any shortfall it may face in national polls. In the eight states of the North-east, the BJP-led NDA has formed the government in seven and is hopeful of garnering the maximum number of 25 Lok Sabha seats from the region. In the 16th Lok Sabha NDA has 11 members of Parliament (MPs) from the region, of which BJP won eight seats.


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