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Militants, floods threaten polls in north-east
G Vinayak in Guwahati |
April 23, 2004 19:12 IST
Nine seats in two north-eastern states of Assam and Manipur will see the end of campaigning on Saturday amidst two different kinds of concerns for the authorities.
Officials conducting polls for the remaining eight of the 14 constituencies in Assam are more worried about the continuous rains and floods in some parts of the state, while the government in Manipur is battling a ban on all election activities imposed by three different underground outfits.
Polling for six Lok Sabha seats in Assam took place in the first phase on April 20.
Voting for the Inner Manipur seats, one of the two from the state, is scheduled for April 26, but all main political parties are facing a heightened threat from the banned United Nationalist Liberation Front, Revolutionary People's Front and Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup.
The militants had disrupted the first phase of polling for the outer Manipur seat on April 20 in a big way and authorities are now planning to deploy additional forces.
Polling in two constituencies of Silchar and Karimganj in southern Assam's Barak Valley looks uncertain because of the flood situation and extensive damage caused to polling stations in many parts of the valley by storm and heavy rains.
Incessant rains for over a week since April 13 raised the water levels of Barak river and its tributaries in the valley, inundating vast areas. It prompted all major political parties in the state, barring the ruling Congress, to demand rescheduling of polls in the two constituencies.
The parties believe that, even if the polls are held, the turnout will be very low, as most of the roads in rural areas have been left devastated by flood water.
Election officer of the worst-affected Cachar district, Madhumita Chaudhuri, said 76 polling stations were under flood water in the district. Poll officials in the adjoining Karimganj district said that about 100 polling stations there were either under floodwater or partially damaged by the storm that lashed the area a few days back.
The deputy commissioner of Hailakandi, however, said election as per schedule was possible in the district where flood has failed to cause much damage.
Deputy Prime Minister Lal Kishenchand Advani is scheduled to make a whirlwind tour of the north-east with as many as four different rallies through the day. Advani's schedule is however subject to weather conditions.