High voter turnout in Sikkim (Second Lead)

April 30th, 2009 - 3:28 pm ICT by IANS  

Gangtok, April 30 (IANS) About 50 percent voter turnout in the first four hours of polling was estimated by poll officials in Sikkim, where elections were underway Thursday for the one Lok Sabha and 32 assembly constituencies.
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 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 poll.

Chief electoral officer C.P. Dhakal estimated that about 50 percent voting had taken place by 11 a.m. although 70 percent of the polling booths of the state had not reported voting figures due to poor phone connectivity.

As per the data collected, South Sikkim recorded 14.31 percent voter turnout, East Sikkim 21.80 percent, West Sikkim 5.97 percent and North Sikkim 7.74 percent.

“We have still not received data from 99 of the 130 polling booths in West Sikkim. The heavy rains in South Sikkim kept people from coming to the booths initially but as the day passes, we expect high voting from the area. Even from the data we have received we believe that there will be hundred percent voting today,” Dhakal told IANS.

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.

“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.”

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