84 pc votes polled in first phase Manipur polls

People walk pass the Bombay Stock Exchange building displaying India's benchmark share index on its facade

Bitter poll campaign with sharp attacks and counter-attacks came to a close this evening for the 49 Uttar Pradesh assembly seats, the voting for which is to be held on March 4 with SP patron Mulayam Singh Yadav's Azamgarh Lok Sabha constituency being in focus. Moreover, the Hindu voters cast their votes for the BJP and PM Modi during Assam polls. Altogether 5,44,050 male voters, 5,75,220 female voters, 5169 male service voters and 1915 female service voters are expected to exercise their right to adult franchise at 1,643 polling stations. There was only one case of violence, wherein a candidate, Erenedo, of the People's Resurgence and Justice Alliance, has claimed that he was assaulted by unknown people. Even in the hilly areas of Churachandpur and the newly-created Kangpokpi districts, the youth voted without any fear.

The second and final phase of polling is scheduled for March 8. During the 2012 assembly elections these constituencies had reported a voter turnout of 55.04 per cent. Okram Ibobi Singh, chief minister of Manipur, who has had a free run for 15 years running a Congress government, faces a challenge this time from the fledgling BJP which had a mere two legislators in the outgoing Assembly. Saikul constituency in the state had the maximum number of contestants in a single constituency at 11.

The reason behind the high voters turnout is because of widespread voters awareness programmes, said Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Vivek Kumar Dewangan of Manipur Election department.

Altogether 8,408 personnel of the central paramilitary forces were deployed for peaceful conduct of the election.

Polling for the first phase of the assembly elections is underway in Congress-ruled Manipur.

Apart from Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, no other party leader from Delhi were visible in the campaign.

The seven districts that went to the polls in the sixth phase of the elections comprised Gorakhpur, Deoria, Maharajganj, Kushinagar, Balia, Mau and Azamgarh.

The March 4 ballot will seal the fate of former Union minister and convener of BJP's election management committee Choba Singh, former ministers Y Erabot and N Biren.

The former member of the national executive of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Madhav is said to be the brain behind selecting candidates to contest polls to the nature of campaign issues to be addressed by BJP leaders. The BSP fielded candidates in all 49 seats while the SP and its ally Congress contested from 40 and nine seats respectively. Recently, one of the BJP legislators crossed over to the Congress while three from Congress and four Naga Peoples Front (NPF) MLAs resigned from the House bringing the strength down from 60 to 53.

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