Arunachal voters turn up in strength

Sushanta Talukdar

Turnout of 72% expected to go up

Polling was by and large peaceful in most regions

Long queues seen in Itanagar on bright, sunny day

Guwahati: About 72 per cent of the 7.25 lakh voters exercised their franchise in Arunachal Pradesh, where polling for 57 of the 60 Assembly seats was held on Tuesday. The final poll percentage is expected to go up as reports from remote and far away polling stations were still awaited.

EVMs damaged

Barring reports of 23 electronic voting machines being damaged in some polling stations, polling was peaceful, including in the insurgency-prone Tirap and Changlang districts. The office of the Chief Electoral Officer is awaiting official reports from the returning officers. Re-polling, if ordered by the Election Commission, will likely be held on October 16 or 17.

Prominent among those whose fates were sealed by the voters included the former Chief Minister, Gegong Apang; his son and former Union Minister, Omak Apang; PCC president and Public Works Department(PWD) Minister Nabam Tuki; and Pomoya Mithi, who is the wife of the former Chief Minister and former Governor, Mukut Mithi. People’s Party of Arunachal (PPA) candidate in the Palin constituency, Takam Tagar, is the richest among all candidates with declared assets of over Rs. 209 crore. He figured at the top of the list of 62 crorepati candidates belonging to different parties.

In the capital Itanagar, long queues were seen as voters turned up in large numbers on a bright and sunny day. The live webcast of polling arranged by the Tirap administration also showed long queues of voters. West Kameng district authorities also arranged a webcast from polling stations through Yahoo! Messenger.

There were 57 candidates from the ruling Congress, 18 from the Bharatiya Janata Party, 36 from the Nationalist Congress Party, 26 from the Trinamool Congress, 11 from the PPA and three from the Janata Dal (United), besides three independents. The candidates included nine women.

Elected unopposed

Three candidates of the Congress, including Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu, were elected unopposed.

Mr. Khandu created political history by getting elected unopposed for a record third time from the Mukto constituency in Tawang district bordering China. He was elected in the same manner in the 1999 and 2004 Assembly elections.

The other two Congress nominees to have won unopposed are sitting legislator Tsewang Dhondup from Tawang and debutant Jambey Tashi from Lumla. In the 2004 Assembly elections too, the Congress won three seats unopposed.