Around 65% of the electorate Thursday cast their votes for the second Lok Sabha seat in Manipur, officials said.
An Election Commission official said polling took place in the Inner Manipur constituency, and no untoward incident has been reported so far. "Balloting has been absolutely peaceful till now," he added.
The official said that around 350 voters did not vote at a polling station, 125 km south of Imphal, in Bishenpur district till late afternoon accusing the authorities of not taking up development schemes in their area. Till 2 pm, around 65% voters cast their ballot in Inner Manipur.
About 78% of the total 911,000 voters in the tribal reserved Outer Manipur constituency cast their ballot April 9. Around 874,000 voters, including 448,000 women, are eligible to vote Thursday at 1,406 polling stations. Eight candidates, including a woman, are in the fray. "Not a single untoward incident has been reported so far in any of the four hilly districts - Imphal East, Imphal West, Bishenpur and Thoubal - where elections are being held," the poll panel official told reporters. "Despite the summer heat, voters in large numbers came to the polling stations even before voting started at 7 am."
Voting was delayed for a short while due to technical snags in electronic voting machines at some polling booths, but engineers rectified the problems or replaced the EVMs and balloting went on normally. Over 12,000 paramilitary troopers and state security personnel have been deployed for security.
Once ravaged by terrorism, Manipur still suffers from militancy, and the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, (AFSPA) is a major issue, along with development. Besides withdrawal of the AFSPA, other issues dominating the campaign were the alleged misgovernance by the Congress, under-development, unemployment and drug menace. Eight candidates, including a woman, are in the fray.
Incumbent member Thokchom Meinya Singh of the Congress, Moirangthem Nara Singh of the Communist Party of India (CPI), and RK Ranjan Singh, a former Manipur University professor of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are the main contenders. Meinya Singh, who is seeking re-election for the third consecutive term, defeated Nara Singh in 2009. The Trinamool Congress has fielded Sarangthem Manaobi, a former police officer.
For security reasons, polling hours in Manipur are from 7 am to 4 pm, unlike in the other northeastern states where votes would be cast between 7 am and 5 pm.