Stage set for simultaneous elections in Arunachal Pradesh

Arunachal will hold simultaneous polling to the Lok Sabha and the Assembly on April 11. PTI

The stage is set for Arunachal Pradesh to hold Lok Sabha and Assembly polls simultaneously on April 11, election officials said on March 11. With the model code of conduct coming into force, the election authorities have issued dos and donts to all political parties and urged all government machinery to strictly follow it.

The Prevention of Defacement of Public Property Act would be mandatorily imposed by all deputy commissioners, election office sources said.  A total of 7,94,162 voters, including 4,01,601 women, would exercise their franchise in the April 11 simultaneous polls in 2,202 polling stations across the state.

Voter numbers

Polling Station no. 52 at Naharalagun, under Itanagar Assembly constituency, has the highest number of voters at 1,340, while Malogam polling station under Hayuliang constituency in remote Anjaw district bordering China has only one female voter. Luguthang polling booth under Mukto constituency in Tawang district is the highest polling station located at an altitude of about 13,583 feet. Eleven polling stations exclusively for female voters have also been set up in the state, the sources said. As per records, photo electoral roll coverage is 99.97 per cent while voter’s photo identity card has been issued to 99.97 per cent in the state. They said that all arrangements to conduct elections have already been completed in the state.

Training of all district election officers, returning officers, assistant returning officers and various categories of nodal officers were completed by the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) office here. Training to all polling personnel has been started by the District Election Officers (DEOs), the sources said.

For the first time, Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) will be used along with electronic voting machines in all the polling stations. For 4,964 service voters, electronically transmitted postal ballots (ETPBS) system would be used for the first time to facilitate hassle free voting. For poll day monitoring, SMS-based poll monitor system would be used and vehicles carrying reserve EVMs will be fitted with GPS in all cellular network covered areas. Toll free helpline number ‘1950’ has also been installed in CEO and DEO offices to handle queries related to elections, the sources added.

The poll notification would be issued on March 18 while the last date of filing nominations has been fixed on March 25. Scrutiny of papers would be made on March 26 while the last date of withdrawal of nominations has been fixed on March 28. Counting of votes will take place on May 23.

The ruling BJP has 48 MLAs in the House of 60, while opposition Congress and National Peoples Party (NPP) have five MLAs each. There are two independent MLAs in the Assembly now. The present term saw lot of turncoat politics with 43 Congress MLAs pulling down Nabam Tuki government by shifting loyalty to Peoples Party of Arunachal (PPA) that soon merged with the BJP.

Keen contest

The ensuing Assembly and Lok Sabha elections in Arunachal would witness a keen contest between the BJP, Congress, NPP, PPA and Janata Dal (Secular). While the ruling BJP would contest the elections on developmental plank, the opposition parties are expected to use the Permanent Resident Certificate (PRC) as their trump card, besides law and order and corruption issues.

During the 2014 Lok Sabha elections in the state, Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju won from Arunachal West Parliamentary constituency while Ninong Ering of the Congress won the Arunachal East seat.     In the Assembly elections of 2014, the Congress had won 42 seats while the BJP succeeded in 11. The Peoples Party of Arunachal (PPA) won 5 seats while two went to independents.

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