New Delhi, Feb 23: Voting was peaceful and voters participation was very encouraging in Meghalaya (88 percent) and Nagaland (83.27 percent) today. Even Tripura, which went to polls this month saw record voter turnout of 93 percent.
The northeastern states are not paradise on Earth that people are happy to come and vote. But, election after elections, they come and vote and this is true after the local militancy problem has ebbed a little.
Contrast this enthusiasm to the urban centres of India, which are best serviced cities in the nation. But the voter turnout does not even touch 40 percent. Even this figure of 40 percent is achieved after door to door campaign by civil groups and social media urging by youngsters.
These urban cities have power, transport, education and best of entertainment and worst of an attitude. The northeastern states lack buses to travel to remote and hilly villages, hardly boast of electricity supply and there is no entertainment apart from individual TV sets. They go either to Kolkata or Bangalore for education and in search of gainful employment.
In Meghalaya today people came out to vote despite a shutdown called by an outlawed group the Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC). However, the authorities are not taking any chances following the 36-hour shutdown call from 6 p.m. Friday to 6 a.m. Sunday (Feb 24) to boycott the assembly elections in the entire Hynniewtrep region (eastern Meghalaya).
In view of the bandh, the government has deployed around 100 public transport vehicles in the capital city and the East Khasi Hills district for the convenience of voters.
The HNLC, which runs hit-and-run operations from its hideout in Bangladesh, has been demanding a sovereign Khasi homeland.
The Border Security Force has stepped up patrolling along the India-Bangladesh border in Meghalaya. The state shares a 498 km-border with Bangladesh, part of which is porous, hilly and unfenced and prone to frequent infiltration.
Nearly a million voters have voted to elect the 60-member assembly in Meghalaya. Counting of votes will take place Feb 28.
In Nagaland, long queues of voters are seen at the polling stations since morning. Unprecedented security arrangement has been made for peaceful, free and fair polls with a total 255 companies of central paramilitary force deployed for providing hundred per cent cover of the polling stations as against the demand of 230 companies by the state.
People turned up in large numbers to exercise their franchise when ballotting began at 7 a.m. officials said. Nagaland has 1,193,438 electorates and they voted to elect a 60-member House.
According to election officials, over 26,000 security personnel, including 225 companies of central paramilitary forces and police, have been deployed for the polls.
Whatever be the reason, influence of church or the community, the people of northeast have cast their votes in large number and sadly such a democratic spirit is missing in pampered cities of rest of India.