Seventy percent voting recorded in Nagaland polls

March 5th, 2008 - 8:30 pm ICT by admin  

(Second Lead)

Kohima, March 5 (IANS) An estimated 70 percent voting was recorded in Wednesday’s election to the 60-member assembly of the northeastern state of Nagaland. The Congress party and the Nagaland People’s Front (NPF)-led regional combine were the main challengers In the election. “The turnout of voters was encouraging and we estimate that some 70 percent had cast their ballots. We are still getting inputs from remote areas and the poll percentage could be higher,” an election official said.

The voting ended peacefully, barring some stray incidents of snatching of voting machines and a few clashes between supporters of rival political parties. “By and large the voting passed off peacefully,” the official said.

A total of 1.3 million voters have decided the fate of 218 candidates - 60 from the Congress, 56 belonging to the NPF, 23 from the BJP, 25 from the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and eight from the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) among others.

The votes will be counted Saturday. Although the two main Naga rebel groups - the Isak-Muivah and Khaplang factions of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) - are observing a ceasefire with the central government, the authorities are not taking any chances to ensure security and law and order.

“We have deployed 168 additional paramilitary companies for election duty and have also kept two MI-17 helicopters ready to rush personnel of the Rapid Deployment Force to remote areas, if necessary,” a police spokesperson said.

The Congress is making a desperate bid to come back to power because the regional NPF-led Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN) was in power in the hill state until the government of Neiphiu Rio was dismissed and president’s rule was imposed in January.

The Congress is trying to capitalize on Naga sentiments by promising them in its election manifesto that if voted to power, it would push for their demand for integration of Naga inhabited areas of adjoining states with Nagaland.

This demand for `Greater Nagaland’ is the rebel NSCN (IM)’s main demand now, but the governments and activist groups in adjoining states of Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh re opposed to it.

The NPF on its part has been telling the voters that the Congress rule in the country is on the wane.

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