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Campaign ends, over to the voters

April 7: The heat and dust of electioneering for the April 9 elections in Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram and Meghalaya and Nagaland came to an end today.

The campaign in the two parliamentary constituencies of Meghalaya ended this evening with candidates making last-minute efforts to woo voters.

In Shillong, 9,80,740 voters, including service voters, will seal the fate of eight contestants on Wednesday while 5,86,501 voters (inclusive of service voters) in Tura parliamentary seat will choose between two candidates.

There are nearly 64,000 additional voters compared to the Assembly polls held in February, 2013.

The election machinery, with the support of the state government, is geared up for voting day. Of 2,562 polling stations, 486 have been classified as hyper-sensitive, 375 as sensitive and the rest as normal, Meghalaya chief electoral officer Prashant Naik said.

Forty companies of central paramilitary forces will be assisting the state police in ensuring peaceful polls, while over 10,000 officials will be directly involved in the polling process, Naik said.

Chief secretary Barkos Warjri, who had toured seven of the 11 districts in the state, expressed satisfaction over the preparations. “We have reviewed the situation and have found the arrangements to be satisfactory. The state is now ready for polls,” Warjri said.

Polling officials have left their district headquarters for their respective polling booths since yesterday while the majority of them will move tomorrow, he added.

Director-general of police Peter James Pyngrope Hanaman expressed confidence that the polls will go well in spite of the 12-hour shutdown called by the proscribed Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) on voting day to be effective only in areas within Shillong parliamentary constituency.

Voting will take place from 7am to 5pm.

According to Hanaman, most of the hyper-sensitive polling booths are located in East Garo Hills, South Garo Hills, and parts of North Garo Hills and South West Khasi Hills.

On polling day, the international border will also be sealed, he said, adding that co-ordination with the Assam police has been done to ensure that polls along the inter-state border pass off without hitches.

While no polling stations will be set up in the disputed areas between Assam and Meghalaya, voters who have enrolled on either side will be allowed to vote.

In view of the 12-hour shutdown on voting day, the chief secretary said that public transport would be made available to facilitate voters to reach their respective polling booths.

In Tura, NPP candidate Purno Agitok Sangma and Congress candidate Daryl William Momin took a last-minute opportunity to woo voters on the last day.

Purno Sangma addressed an election rally at Tura bazaar, accompanied by Independent MLA John Leslee K. Sangma, and his legislator son James K. Sangma.

Purno warned chief minister Mukul Sangma that after the election he would expose all his wrong-doings. “The NDA will definitely come to power and Modi will be the Prime Minister. Mukul knows that he will be in trouble when it happens. Why do you think he is campaigning so hard?”

“I have raised the demand for Garoland and I am sure my voice will be heard. The Centre is not aware of the demand for Garoland so far. I will definitely take the demand to the Centre and we will fight for Garoland as a team,” said Sangma.

South Tura MLA John Leslee K. Sangma accused the Congress of belittling the intellect of the people of Garo hills in choosing someone who was unknown, when the need of the hour was someone with experience to handle the deteriorating law and order situation.

Sitting Tura MP Agatha Sangma hit out at the Mukul Sangma-led Congress government. “They have been saying that I have been crying since I sacrificed my seat to P.A. Sangma. Does it look like I have been crying? I gave up my dream, as it requires someone with experience to bring peace and stability within the region. If there is anyone who can ensure peace within the region, it is Purno Sangma,” said Agatha.

“Mukul Sangma is the chairman of militants and if the chief minister himself is such, how can we expect peace within the region,” she added.

Congress candidate Daryl William Momin spent the day on a bike and car rally, which began at 11am and continued for several hours.

Similar rallies were held in Williamnagar, East Garo Hills. Social welfare minister, Deborah C. Marak, led the rally.

In Congress-ruled Arunachal Pradesh, the two Lok Sabha seats in the state will witness a contest among the Congress, BJP, NCP, PPA and Independents.

Altogether 155 candidates, including five women, are in the fray for 49 Assembly seats.

In the 49 Assembly constituencies out of 60, the main contest would be between the Congress and BJP.

The ruling Congress has already opened its account, securing 11 Assembly seats uncontested, including chief minister Nabam Tuki from Sagalee constituency.

The state is considered a Congress bastion. The party has won absolutely majority in all the Assembly elections so far.

The issue of the death of Arunachal student Nido Tania in Delhi figured prominently during the campaign.

BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, Nagaland chief minister Nephiu Rio and actors Raja Murad and Asrani were the key campaigners in the state, which has an electorate of 7,53,170, including 3,77,272 women.

The curtains came down today for electioneering in Outer Manipur Lok Sabha seat, one of the two Lok Sabha seats in the state in the hill districts, which goes to the polls on April 9.

Among the 10 contestants are nominees of the BJP, Congress, Trinamul Congress, Naga People’s Front, NCP, JD (U) and Aam Aadmi Party. Three Independents are also in the fray.

The prominent candidates are sitting Congress MP Thangso Baite, Gangmumei Kamei (BJP), C Doungel (NCP), Kim Gangte (Trinamul Congress), Soso Lorho (Naga People’s Front), L. Gangte (JD-U) and M.K. Zou (AAP).

Of the electorate of 9,11,699, the number of women is 4,63,068. There are 511 polling booths.

Polling for the second seat in the state, Inner Manipur constituency (valley districts) will be held on April 17.

Canvassing for the election to the lone Lok Sabha seat and bypoll to the Hrangturzo Assembly constituency, to be held simultaneously on April 9, ended today in Congress-ruled Mizoram.

The Mizoram Lok Sabha seat will witness a triangular contest between the ruling Congress, the Aam Aadmi Party, which is contesting in the state for the first time, and the United Democratic Front — an electoral alliance of eight Opposition parties, including the Mizo National Front, the main Opposition party here.

Besides the MNF, the UDF constituents comprise the Zoram Nationalist party, the Mizoram People’s Conference, the Maraland Democratic Front, the Hmar People’s Conference, the Paite Tribal Council, the BJP and the Nationalist Congress Party.

The Mizoram Lok Sabha seat has 7,02,189 electorates, which include 3,55,954 women voters outnumbering the 3,46,229 men.

There are 1,126 polling stations of which 385 polling stations, mainly in the urban areas, would use VVPAT system.