Flights Of Fantasy
[ M Panging Pao ]
The simultaneous elections for the state assembly and the Lok Sabha were held in Arunachal Pradesh on 11 April. Elections were conducted at 2202 polling stations spread across the state. A few polling stations could be reached only on foot with ballot boxes and other material transported by porters and mules.
The elections had been notified on 10 March. After hectic lobbying for party tickets, followed by hectic campaigning for about 31 days, elections were successfully conducted in the state. During the campaign, cash seizures amounted to about Rs 6 crore, and liquors worth Rs 2 crore were seized. There were also reports of violent clashes between various factions reported from many constituencies.
For the two Lok Sabha seats, 12 candidates are in the fray. The ruling BJP is contesting all 60 assembly seats. Three BJP candidates have won elections unopposed. For the remaining 57 of the 60 assembly seats, 181 candidates are in the race. The party-wise breakdown is: BJP – 60 seats, Congress – 46, National People’s Party – 30 candidates, Janata Dal (United) – 15, Janata Dal (Secular) 12, and PPA.
The state witnessed about 70% voting by about eight lakh voters. The number of female voters was more than that of male voters. However, as per reports, polling could not be conducted at 133 booths due to damage/malfunctioning of EVMs. Re-polling dates will be announced later.
There were also 11 all-women polling stations in the state. About 15000 officials and officers deputed from other states/centre as observers and expenditure observers were deployed for conduct of the elections. About 45 companies of central police forces, like the ITBP, the CRPF, the IRBn and the SSB, along with over seven thousand state civil police personnel were deployed for the elections. Prime Minister Narendra Modi campaigned twice in the state. Other leaders like Rahul Gandhi, Amit Shah and film stars also campaigned in the state.
The enthusiasm for voting was so great that many polling stations witnessed voting till late into the night. Many students also returned from various parts of the country and the state to cast their valuable votes. In fact, Itanagar and Naharlagun wore a deserted look as most officials, staffs and students went back to vote in their ancestral places.
Presently, the fate of these 181 candidates for the assembly and 12 candidates for the Lok Sabha are sealed inside EVMs kept in guarded strong rooms. And it is an agonizingly long wait for about 41 days till the declaration of results on 23 May.
Though Arunachalees are mostly voting based on clan/tribe politics, as per many reports humongous amounts of money has been used in these elections. This voting pattern based on buying votes must be curbed – else our society will rot. Towards this, the younger, educated youths must take the lead, plan and insist of voting based on ideology, principles, concepts of development, progress, peace, stability, etc. We owe this basic democratic tenet to our next generations. The tense wait for the results on 23 May has begun. (The contributor is retired Group Captain, Indian Air Force)