hidden image

Northeast Voters Project an Impressive Polling

Nava Thakuria Nava Thakuria
29 Apr 2024

As the largest show on the planet began on 19 April 2024, where 969 million eligible Indian voters started exercising their franchise in the seven-phase polling conducted by the Election Commission of India (ECI) to elect 543 members to the 18th Lok Sabha for the next five years, the far eastern part of Bharat has recorded an impressing voters' participation. Thousands of nominees from various national and regional political parties (along with some independent candidates) are contesting in the general elections, where the counting of votes in electronic voting machines is scheduled to take place on 4 June next (and results are also expected the same day). Chief election commissioner Rajiv Kumar assured the voters of free, fair, peaceful elections. He urged them to participate in the biggest festival of democracy (costing New Delhi around 1,200 billion rupees).

Leaving aside some stray incidents, the first phase of polling for 102 Parliamentary seats across 17 States and four union territories, along with State legislative assemblies of Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim in northeast India, concluded peacefully with around 65 per cent voter turnout despite heat waves in many places and rains in some other areas. ECI appreciated the nation's diverse electorate, which painted vivid pictures of democracy against a largely peaceful and conducive environment. The Constitutional body also added that from bustling city centres to remote villages, the polling stations witnessed a colourful convergence of voters spanning generations and backgrounds, where the polling was seamless, based on meticulous planning and execution by the ECI and its officials on the ground.

The first phase witnessed around 1,625 candidates (including 134 females) who have sought the mandate from over 166 million voters (including 82 million female, 11,371 third gender and 18 million first-time electorates). Tripura, bordering Bangladesh, recorded the highest voter turnout, where its West Tripura seat witnessed as high as over 80 per cent polling. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) fielded former State chief minister Biplab Kumar Deb, whom united opposition candidate Ashish Kumar Saha challenges. The other seat, East Tripura, will go for polls in the 2nd phase on 26 April along with Manipur, Assam, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Kerala, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Jammu & Kashmir.

Meghalaya recorded equally impressive polling, where the Shillong constituency witnessed over 65 per cent voting, and the Tura seat went up to 81 per cent. The ruling National People's Party (NPP) candidate Ampareen Lyngdoh is challenging the sitting Congress MP Vincent Pala in Shillong. In Tura, the sitting NPP MP Agatha Sangma faces an electoral challenge from Zenith Sangma (All India Trinamool Congress) and Saleng A Sangma (Indian National Congress). Voting in five Parliamentary seats of Assam, namely Dibrugarh, Kaziranga, Sonitpur, Lakhimpur and Jorhat, also went to polls in the 1st phase, where over 75 per cent voter turnout was recorded. The largest State in the region will witness two more phases of polling for Darrang-Udalguri, Nagaon, Diphu, Silchar and Karimganj seats on 26 April and Guwahati, Barpeta, Kokrajhar and Dhubri on 7 May.

In Dibrugarh, central minister Sarbananda Sonowal faces challenges from Manoj Dhanowar (Aam Aadmi Party) and Lurinjyoti Gogoi (Asom Jatiya Parishad, endorsed by the United Opposition Forum of Assam). In Kaziranga, Rajya Sabha member Kamakhya Prasad Tasa had a direct contest from Congress nominee Roselina Tirkey. Similarly, in Sonitpur (earlier named Tezpur), BJP candidate Ranjit Dutta is challenged by Congress candidate Prem Lal Ganju and AAP nominee Rishiraj Kaundinya. Among nine candidates in the Lakhimpur seat, sitting MP Pradan Barua primarily faces challenges from Congress candidate Uday Shankar Hazarika. Jorhat seat attracted public attention as two sitting MPs contested with high promises. Gaurav Gogoi, who represented the Kolibar seat (now delimited), came to Jorhat to challenge the sitting MP Tapan Gogoi, once a student leader before joining the saffron party.

Nagaland recorded around 57 per cent voter turnout even after six districts (namely Mon, Longleng, Tuensang, Kiphire, Noklak and Shamator) recorded zero participation from electorates following an appeal by Eastern Nagaland People's Organization (ENPO) to abstain from voting to raise their demand for the Frontier Nagaland Territory. Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party nominee Chumben Murry, whom People's Democratic Alliance also endorses, remains a front-runner against the immediate rival S Supongmeren Jamir (Congress). Mizoram also witnessed peaceful polling with around 55 per cent turnout, where Zoram People's Movement nominee Richard Vanlalhmangaiha was challenged by Mizo National Front candidate K. Vanlalvena, Congress contestant Lalbiakzama and BJP nominee Vanhlalmuaka. Amidst troubles in the Inner Manipur constituency, the voter turnout was over 75 per cent, where BJP candidate Thounaojam Basanta Kumar Singh challenged Congress nominee Angomcha Bimol Akoijam. Some parts of the Outer Manipur seat (polling in remaining areas scheduled for 26 April) also went to polls and reported over 61 per cent turnout. Kachui Timothy Zimik (Naga People's Front), whom the BJP supports, faces Congress candidate Alfred Kanngam S Arthur.

Arunachali voters successfully exercised their franchise to elect two MPs and 50 legislators with a turnout of around 67 per cent. Mentionable is that 10 BJP candidates, including State Chief Minister Pema Khandu and his deputy Chowna Mein, were already declared unopposed winners. Union minister Kiren Rijiju faces Congress nominee Nabam Tuki in Arunachal West constituency, and sitting saffron MP Tapir Gao has been challenged by Bosiram Siram in Arunachal East seat. Sikkim electorates also voted for 32 legislators and one MP with more than 67 per cent turnout. The ruling Sikkim Krantikari Morcha fielded sitting MP Indra Hang Subba against former Parliamentarian Prem Das Rai (Sikkim Democratic Front), Gopal Chettri (Congress) and Dinesh Chandra Nepal (BJP) for the lone Parliamentary seat. In assembly segments, Sikkim CM Prem Singh Tamang, former CM Pawan Kumar Chamling, legendary footballer Bhaichung Bhutia, CM's wife Krishna Kumari Rai, etc, are contesting from respective constituencies.

The 1st voting phase was also conducted in Tamil Nadu (all 39 Parliamentary seats) and Uttarakhand (for five seats). Similarly eight out of 80 seats in Uttar Pradesh, 12 out of 25 seats in Rajasthan, three constituencies in West Bengal, six in Maharashtra, four in Bihar, six in Madhya Pradesh, one each in Chhattisgarh, Puducherry, Lakshadweep, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Jammu & Kashmir also went to polls on the same day. In this phase, Bihar recorded the lowest voter turnout (less than 50 per cent), whereas Rajasthan reported over 56 per cent turnout. Even the violence-hit West Bengal reported a better turnout (over 77 per cent). Despite relentless awareness campaigns by the ECI, various social organisations, and news channels, voter turnout continues to decline in mainland India. The northeastern States did far better, thanks to a localised campaign by Lok Jagaran Mancha Asom for 100 per cent voter turnout. The Assam-based nationalist forum launched the campaign with printed leaflets, music videos and short plays to inspire the voters to arrive at the polling booths on time and cast their votes with pride and responsibility.

Recent Posts

The furore surrounding NEET has once again brought the need for systemic reforms in education to the fore.
apicture Jaswant Kaur
24 Jun 2024
The RSS' sudden snipe against immoral politics and concern for issues it had hitherto left untouched can be perceived from many angles.
apicture Ram Puniyani
24 Jun 2024
Mr Modi and Mr Bhagwat are both vicious personalities with a cussed arrogance
apicture John Dayal
24 Jun 2024
The Modi-led BJP has aimed for a "Congress-mukt Bharat" since 2014, weakening democracy.
apicture Jacob Peenikaparambil
24 Jun 2024
Modi has gone on record saying that he has invited Pope Francis to India!
apicture Cedric Prakash
24 Jun 2024
None of us have yet emerged from the shock of one of the most devastating fire accidents in Kuwait, which killed 50 migrant workers, including 46 Indians, on Wednesday, June 12, 2024.
apicture Dr Arnald Mahesh SDB
24 Jun 2024
Uttarakhand's forest fires have resulted in the loss of not only human lives but also a vast forest area.
apicture Vidya Bhushan Rawat
24 Jun 2024
Prime Minister Modi tends to dismiss climate change, attributing the challenges to altered human behaviour.
apicture Peter Fernandes, SFX
24 Jun 2024
I believe, and this is not a political article, that these elections have shown us qualities of true leadership.
apicture Robert Clements
24 Jun 2024
Many years ago, Mahatma Gandhi spoke about seven crimes. One of them is "Politics without principle."
apicture M L Satyan
17 Jun 2024