Nagaland bypolls: 67.92 pc voting till 1 pm in two assembly seats

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(Eds: Updates turnout) Kohima, Nov 3 (PTI) Around 67.92 per cent of total 43,242 voters exercised their franchise till 1 pm in by- elections to two assembly seats in Nagaland on Tuesday amidst tight security and strict adherence to the COVID-19 protocol, election officials said.

Southern Angami-1 seat in Kohima district recorded 57.1 per cent polling, while 78.75 per cent of voters have cast their ballots in Pungro Kiphire constituency in Kiphire district. Polling began at 6 am in both the seats, they said, adding no untoward incident has been reported so far.

The fates of eight candidates in the two seats will be sealed in EVMs by 4 pm.

Adequate security personnel have been deployed and COVID-19 safety measures are in place for smooth conduct of the by-elections, Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Abhijit Sinha said.

The by-elections to Southern Angami-1 and Pungro Kiphire seats were necessitated following the deaths of the then Assembly speaker Vikho-o Yhoshu and T Torechu of the Naga People's Front respectively.

A total of 13,641 people are eligible to cast their votes in 22 polling stations in Southern Angami-1 and 29,601 people can vote in 23 polling booths in Pungro Kiphire, Sinha said.

More than 50 per cent of the polling stations in Southern Angami-1 and 40 per cent in Pungro-Kiphire have been identified as critical and vulnerable, he said.

Webcast and static video recordings are being conducted in all the polling booths to ensure free and fair elections, the CEO said.

Measures such as thermal screening, providing masks, sanitisers and hand gloves to voters and demarcating polling areas to ensure social distancing have been undertaken, officials said.

Ruling Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) nominee Medo Yhokha, opposition NPF's Kikovi Kirha and Independent candidate Seyievilie Peter Zashumo are in the electoral race for the Southern Angami-1 seat.

Five nominees, including Khaseo Anar of the Congress, BJP's Lirimong Sangtam and Independent candidates K Shellumthong, T Yangseo Sangtam and Kiusumew Yimchunger are in the fray for the Pungro-Kiphire seat.

An extra hour has been given to provide enough time to the voters as all the COVID-19 SOPs have to be followed, Sinha said. PTI NBS ACD ACD