Sikkim records over 74 pc polling

Gangtok: Young voters wait in queue to cast vote for Lok Sabha election at a polling station, in Gangtok, Sikkim, on April 11, 2019.

Gangtok,  Over 74 per cent votes were cast as polling continued beyond the deadline in Sikkim on Thursday in simultaneous elections for the 32-member state Assembly and the lone Lok Sabha seat.

“Around 74 per cent polling has been reported overall till now,” said an official of the state chief electoral office. “There are no reports of any disturbance,” he said.

Voting began at 7 a.m. and was earlier slated to end at 5 pm. A total of 423,325 voters are voting in 567 polling stations. They will choose their representatives from 150 candidates for the state Assembly and 11 for the lone Lok Sabha seat.

The state is largely witnessing a three-way fight between Chief Minister Pawan Chamling’s Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF), former SDF Minister P.S. Golay-led the Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM), and footballer Bhaichung Bhutia’s Hamro Sikkim Party (HSP).

Chamling, who has been the Chief Minister since 1994, is contesting from Poklok-Kamrang and Namchi Singhithang seats, while Bhutia is in the fray from Gangtok and Tumen Lingi seats.

The Bharatiya Janata Party and Congress are also in the fray in Sikkim, which borders Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan.

Chamling and Bhutia, as also Golay, and current MP P.D. Rai were among those who cast their vote on Thursday.

Sumitra Rai, a 107-year-old woman, became Sikkim’s oldest registered voter to vote. She came on a wheelchair to the Kamrang Government Secondary School polling booth in the Poklok Kamrang constituency to cast her vote.

Her photographs were shared by the official Twitter account of the Sikkim office of Press Information Bureau (PIB), the publicity arm of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

SDF spokesman P.D. Rai, however, expressed his dismay over a large number of EVMs malfunctioning during the day. “This delayed the entire process, and people were also agitated.”