Rain shadow on phase II polls
All eyes will be on the weather as six Lok Sabha constituencies in the Northeast, including five in Assam, go to polls on Thursday.
Thunderstorms and short, sharp showers over the past two days have triggered apprehensions that inclement weather could affect the voter turnout.
Weathermen on Wednesday warned that thunderstorms with gusty winds blowing at a speed of 40-50kmph and hail may occur in Nagaon, West Karbi Anglong, Kamrup and Nalbari districts where voting will take place on Thursday.
The Regional Meteorological Centre at Borjhar also said isolated rain/thundershowers are “very likely” in Cachar, Dima Hasao, Karimganj, Hailakandi and Karbi Anglong districts on polling day.
Five constituencies in Assam — Karimganj (SC), Mangaldoi, Silchar, Nowgong and Autonomous District (ST) — and one in Manipur (Inner Manipur) will go to polls in the second phase on Thursday.
Voting was also scheduled to be held in the Tripura East parliamentary constituency on Thursday but the Election Commission on Tuesday deferred it to April 23 following apprehensions on the “law and order situation”.
Assam chief electoral officer Mukesh Chandra Sahu said necessary precautions are being taken to see that voters are not inconvenienced if the weather takes a turn for the worse. Rituraj Bora, the deputy commissioner of Morigaon, and Mukul Saikia, his Karbi Anglong counterpart, told The Telegraph they were set for Thursday’s polling but were hoping the weather would hold.
“The weather was pretty bad till noon. The road to a village got blocked by uprooted trees which we managed to clear for polling personnel to reach their polling stations in time. We hope we have no such issues tomorrow,” Bora said. Saikia said incessant rainfall till noon, especially in the Singhason Hill region, had made several roads inaccessible. “We had to use bulldozers to push vehicles carrying polling personnel to four polling stations located on the hills. There was tension but now everything is under control. We hope the weather remains clear tomorrow,” Saikia said.
Dima Hasao deputy commissioner Amitabh Rajkhowa said bad weather had affected movement of polling parties in some interior areas of the hill district. “At a few places, vehicles carrying polling parties got stuck in the slush. In some areas, the polling teams had to trek for 11km to reach the polling station from the nearest road,” Rajkhowa said.
He said 147 polling parties left for their respective polling stations on Wednesday while 97 had departed on Monday and Tuesday.
“We hope the weather will not play spoilsport on Thursday,” Rajkhowa said.
For the second phase in Assam, 50 candidates, including three women, are in the fray. Altogether 69,105,92 voters comprising of 35,544,60 males, 33,559,52 females and 180 third gender voters will cast their votes in 8,992 polling stations in this phase. Cachar DC Laya Madduri said all polling personnel have left for their poling stations. “We are expecting high voter turnout as we have done extensive voter awareness campaign,” Hailakandi deputy commissioner Keerthi Jalli said.
In Manipur, 11 candidates, including four Independents, are in the fray for Inner Manipur Lok Sabha seat.
A total of 928,626 voters, including 447,843 males, 480,751 females and 32 third gender voters figure in the second phase in 1,300 polling stations. There are 8,838 service voters.
There will be 78 all-women polling stations.
At 15/32 Lamlong Higher Secondary School polling station, only differently abled persons will be on duty. Special arrangements have been made for differently abled voters. Manipur election department said 56 polling stations have been identified as critical and 54 as vulnerable. For the second phase, 45 companies of paramilitary forces have been deployed and there will be webcasting from 599 polling stations.