Heavy polling in Sikkim (Lead)

April 30th, 2009 - 1:30 pm ICT by IANS  

Gangtok, April 30 (IANS) Long queues were seen outside polling booths in Sikkim, where elections were underway Thursday for the one Lok Sabha and 32 assembly constituencies.
The situation was peaceful with no reports of any untoward incidents, police said.

There were more women than men in the queues which started forming even before the polling centres opened at 7 a.m. Young voters, many of them exercising their franchise for the first time, were also seen lining up with great enthusiasm.

At the Paljor Nangyal Girls Senior Secondary school booth in Gangtok, polling started late due to the malfunctioning of the electronic voting machine for the Lok Sabha.

“When I vote, I feel the same way as I did when India became independent. By voting we contemplate and facilitate change, a change for the better,” said 95-year-old Tirath Ram Oberoi.

Eighteen-year-old Anugraha Saharaja, who voted for the first time, said: “My parents accompanied me here today but they did not tell me whom to vote for, it is my decision. This is my birthright and I am proud to be exercising it.”

Poll officials said the initial turnout was even better than in previous elections, when 80 percent of the voters exercised their franchise.

The ruling Sikkim Democratic Front and the opposition Congress are the main contestants in the elections.

The fate of 168 candidates in the fray for the assembly polls and five candidates for the Lok Sabha seat will be decided by 300,584 people - 157,361 men and 143,223 women.

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