Itanagar, Dec 22 (PTI) A voter turnout of 25 per cent was recorded in the first five hours of panchayat elections in Arunachal Pradesh on Tuesday, while 30 per cent of electors exercised their franchise for polls for two urban local bodies, an official said.
Voting began at 7 am with election officials and voters adhering to COVID-19 protocols, he said.
The turnout of voters was moderate in the morning as chilly weather conditions kept most people indoors. The polling percentage is increasing as the day progresses, State Election Commission (SEC) Deputy Secretary Habung Lampung said.
A total of 4,89,423 voters are eligible to exercise their franchise at 1,472 polling stations to elect members for 141 Zilla Parishad seats and 1,702 gram panchayat segments and 23 councillors for two urban local bodies- Itanagar Municipal Corporation (IMC) and Pasighat Municipal Council (PMC).
Electronic voting machines (EVMs) are being used for the two civic bodies elections and ballot papers for panchayats.
Safety protocols like wearing masks, maintaining social distancing inside the polling booths and sanitisation are being followed, the State Election Commission (SEC) official said.
More than 8,000 security personnel, including nine companies of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), besides 7,517 state policemen have been deployed for the elections.
A total of 258 polling stations have been identified as hyper-sensitive, and 536 as sensitive.
Polling will end at 4 pm.
Altogether 6,500 candidates in 99 Zilla Parishad seats and 6,401 gram panchayats have already won without any contest, the official said.
Of the 20 seats of IMC, five candidates from the ruling BJP have been elected unopposed.
Voters will decide the fate of 36 candidates- 15 from BJP, 14 from Janata Dal United, four from National People's Party (NPP) and three from the Congress- for remaining 15 wards of IMC, he said.
Seventeen candidates are in the fray for eight seats of PMC, where the BJP and the Congress are contesting in all wards and the NPP in one.
Elections are not being held in the Dibang Valley district as all the segments in both Zilla Parishad and gram panchayat have been won by the ruling party unopposed, State Election Commissioner Hage Kojeen said.
East Siang is the only district where elections are being held in all the 120 polling stations, he said.
At least 110 gram panchayat segments in the state have fallen vacant due to various reasons. The SEC will take a final call on conducting by-elections to these seats after the current election process is over, the official said.
As the state administration has declared a holiday on Tuesday, all government offices, banks and commercial establishments, besides educational institutions, remained closed.
Counting of votes will take place on December 26.
Governor Brig (Retd) Dr B D Mishra and his wife Neelam Mishra exercised their franchise at a polling booth at the P Sector Government Secondary School.
The governor appreciated the people for their participation in the polling process amid the COVID-19 crisis and lauded the security personnel and the government officials for their efforts to ensure that the elections are free and fair. PTI UPL BDC BDC