44 per cent voters exercised their franchise in the first four hours of polling for Nagaland’s lone Lok Sabha seat today. Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio cast his vote at a polling booth at Touphema Basa village, around 25 km from the state capital, around 10 am, sources said. The ruling People’s Democratic Alliance (PDA), which has the NDPP and the BJP as it major constituents, has fielded former minister Tokheho Yepthomi from the seat. Yepthomi is pitted against Opposition Naga People’s Front (NPF) nominee C Apok Jamir. The Congress has also extended its support to Jamir.
Altogether 11,97,436 people are eligible to exercise their franchise at 2196 polling stations across the state, Nagaland Chief Electoral Officer Abhijit Sinha said. Voting began at 7 AM and will go on till 4 PM in 1887 polling stations, while it will end an hour ahead in 309 booths, the CEO said. “In 309 booths, set up in faraway places with barely any transportation facilities, the polling will end at 3 PM for the convenience of the election officials,” he said.
Altogether, 40 companies of Central Armed Police Forces along with 80 companies of Nagaland Armed Police, 770 Home Guards and 2600 village guards have been deployed across the state to ensure free and fair polls, Sinha added.
The bypoll was necessitated after Rio, who is also the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) leader, resigned as a Lok Sabha member in February, days before the assembly polls.