Month long poll campaign ends in Nagaland

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Kohima, Mar 03 (UNI) The month-long campaign for the sixty-member Nagaland Assembly, which goes to polls on March five, ended at 1600 hours today.

A total of 12,99,888 electorate--6,64,984 males and 6,35,904 females, will decide the fate of 218 candidates, including four women. In the arena are twelve political parties and Independents.

Among prominent candidates are Mr Neiphiu Rio(NPF) from Northern Angami-II in Kohima district. He headed the Democratic Alliance of Nagaland government before President's rule was imposed in the state on January three.

Others are former chief minister K L Chishi from Dimapur-I, sitting Rajya Sabha Member from Nagaland T R Zeliang (NPF) from Peren, former DAN minister Dr. T M Lotha(BJP), former Rajya Sabha Member Apok C. Jamir (Cong), who is the son of Goa Governor and former chief minister S C Jamir. Former Speaker Kiyanilie Peseyie (NPF) is contesting from Western Angami A/C and former deputy Speaker E E Pangteang is contesting on an NPF ticket from Moka.

Of the 1780 polling stations, the Election Department has identified 740 as 'hyper sensitive' and 554 'sensitive'.

Campaigning in this hilly tribal Northeastern state was different from elsewhere in the country as the voting is decided by the clan, tribe or area-wise, for which electioneering by top leaders from outside the state has little impact on the voters.

However, respective parties and Independent candidates took out flag-bearing vehicles and processions besides, carrying out postering seeking votes.

Braving chilly weather in Kohima and Pfutsero under Phek district, political party workers continued their campaign till 2100 hours last night in a last ditch attempt to woo voters.

The main issues focused by almost all political parties were development, peace and facilitating a solution to the Naga political issue.

National leaders like Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh visited Kohima to campaign for Congress candidates. AICC supremo and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi paid a day's visit to Mokokchung and Dimapur on Saturday. AICC General Secretary Margaret Alva and Secretary Ranji Thomas camped for a few days to oversee the campaign of party candidates.

BJP national president Rajnath Singh went on a day's whirlwind tour to Tuensang, Longleng and Wokha.

RJD Chief and Railway Minister Laloo Prasad Yadav also campaigned.

Altogether four persons were killed and more than 36 injured in pre-poll violence in different parts of the state so far.

About 50,000 persons were engaged in the election procedure.

Altogether 31 Election Observers, 20 General Observers and eleven Expenditure Observers have already started work in various districts.

A total of 43,000 security force personnel are being engaged, including those from Assam Rifles, CRPF, BSF, Indian Reserve Battalion, besides over ten thousand state police, 500 Home Guards and 5,800 Village Guards.

Meanwhile, Chief Electoral Officer C. J. Ponraj has directed all the Returning officers not to allow any campaign after 1600 hours today and all possible precautionary measures have already been taken by the Election Department and Home Department to conduct a free and fair election on March five.

UNI AS-PB PL RD 1441

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