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50% polling in Arunachal Pradesh
May 05, 2004 19:55 IST
An estimated 50 per cent voters exercised their franchise in two Lok Sabha constituencies in Arunachal Pradesh on Wednesday despite the ongoing 48-hour statewide bandh called by the All Arunachal Pradesh Students Union to enforce poll boycott to protest the inclusion of 1497 refugees in the state electoral roll.
Though there was no major incident, repolling has been ordered at a polling station near Palin in Kurung Kumey district and another at Chayang Tajo in East Kameng district.
According to election office sources, bandh supporters damaged an EVM at Palin and polling was disrupted at Chayang Tajo following a quarrel between two groups there.
The state recorded over 70 per cent polling in October 1999 when elections to both assembly and Lok Sabha were held together. According to official sources, Tawang and Bomdila have witnessed high turnout.
In the state capital, polling was dull in the morning, but picked up as the day wore on.
While shops and markets were closed due to the bandh for the second day, vehicular traffic was off the road.
With paramilitary personnel patrolling the streets, voters walked down to the polling stations in the absence of vehicles to cast their votes.
According to reports, almost all the 1497 refugees cast their votes in polling stations exclusively set up for them at Miao, Bordumsa-dyium in Changlang district and at Chakma village at Chowkham in Lohit district.
Though there are 13 candidates -- six for Arunachal East and seven for Arunachal West seat -- the fight is mainly between ruling BJP candidates and opposition Congress and Arunachal Congress aspirants.
BJP fielded Khiren Rijiju, general secretary of the state unit and party spokesman and Tapir Gao, a former vice president of the state unit for West and East seats respectively.
The Congress renominated Wangcha Rajkumar who represented Arunachal East seat in the Lok Sabha for the last two terms and left the West seat to its ally, Arunachal Congress president Kamen Ringu.
Altogether 1700 odd polling stations were set up for a total of 683,480 electors and nearly 50 per cent of the polling stations were declared either hyper sensitive and sensitive on the basis of the reports of the district electoral officers two and half months ago.
A total of 3100 para-military forces and 4000 state police personnel were deployed for the smooth conduct of the poll and IAF helicopters were requisitioned to airlift polling personnel to inaccessible polling stations.