Voting underway for Arunachal panchayat, civic elections

Polling for panchayat and twourban local bodies in Arunachal Pradesh is underway on Tuesdaywith election officials and voters adhering to COVID-19protocols.

Voting began at 7 am but the turnout was moderate inearly hours as chilly weather conditions kept most peopleindoors, State Election Commission (SEC) Deputy SecretaryHabung Lampung said.

A total of 4,89,423 voters are eligible to exercisetheir franchise at 1,472 polling stations to elect members for141 Zilla Parishad seats and 1,702 gram panchayat segments and23 councillors for two urban local bodies- Itanagar MunicipalCorporation (IMC) and Pasighat Municipal Council (PMC).

Electronic voting machines (EVMs) are being used forpolls for the two civic bodies and ballot papers forpanchayats.

Safety protocols like wearing masks, maintainingsocial distancing inside the polling booths and sanitisationare being followed, the StateEelection Commission (SEC)official said.

More than 8,000 security personnel, including ninecompanies of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), besides7,517 state policemen have been deployed for the elections.

A total of 258 polling stations have been identifiedas hyper-sensitive, and 536 as sensitive.

Polling will end at 4 pm.

Altogether 6,500 candidates in 99 Zilla Parishad seatsand 6,401 gram panchayats have already won without anycontest, the official said.

Of the 20 seats of IMC, five candidates from theruling BJP have been elected unopposed.

Voters will decide the fate of 36 candidates- 15 fromBJP, 14 from Janata Dal United, four from National PeoplesParty (NPP) and three from the Congress- for remaining 15wards of IMC, he said.

Seventeen candidates are in the fray for eight seatsof PMC, where the BJP and the Congress are contesting in allthe wards and the NPP in one.

Polls are not being held in Dibang Valley district asall the segments in Zilla Parishad and gram panchayat havebeen won by the ruling party unopposed, State ElectionCommissioner Hage Kojeen said.

East Siang is the only district where elections arebeing held in all the 120 polling stations, he said.

At least 110 gram panchayat segments in the state havefallen vacant due to various reasons. The SEC will take afinal call on conducting by-elections to these seats after thecurrent electoral process is over, the official said.

As the state administration has declared a holiday onTuesday, all government offices, banks and commercialestablishments, besides educational institutions, remainedclosed.

Counting of votes will take place on December 26.

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