Polling began at 7 a.m. for 14 of the 25 Lok Sabha seats across the eight Northeastern States, 57 of 60 Assembly seats in Arunachal Pradesh, 32 Assembly seats in Sikkim, and bypolls to an Assembly seat each in Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland.
Voting will be held till 5 p.m. in all the seats except for Outer Manipur, Nagaland and the two Meghalaya parliamentary seats where the timing is up to 4 p.m. Apart from Assam, Manipur and Tripura, the region has a single-phase election.
Of the 14 Lok Sabha seats, five are in Assam in the first phase, two each in Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya, and one each in the rest of the Northeastern States.
Many constituencies in States such as Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Manipur have polling booths inaccessible by road. Polling personnel had begun walking — armed with stick to keep snakes at bay and salt for leeches — with polling materials a week in advance to reach their destinations. A few of these booths are in Vijaynagar circle of Arunachal Pradesh’s Changlang district where polling personnel were air-dropped so that they can head to their destinations on foot.
Otherwise, one has to walk 187 km through the Namdapha National Park to reach Vijaynagar from nearest major town of Miao. Changlang also has the most number of all-female polling booths — 24 out of 91 — in Arunachal Pradesh.
Polling Station 52 in Naharlagun under Itanagar Assembly constituency has 1,340 voters, the most in Arunachal Pradesh. Malogam under Hayuliang constituency has only one female voter.
The phase I of polling will decide the fates of Union Minister of State for Home and BJP’s Kiren Rijiju and former Chief Minister Nabam Tuki of Congress, both contesting from the Arunachal West Lok Sabha seat, former Union minister Paban Singh Ghatowar (Dibrugarh LS seat, Assam) of Congress, Gaurav Gogoi of Congress (Kaliabor, Assam), son of former Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, retired IAS officer M.G.V.K. Bhanu of Congress (Tezpur, Assam), coal mine-owner Vincent Pala of Congress (Shillong, Meghalaya), former Union minister Agatha K. Sangma of National People’s Party and former Meghalaya CM Mukul M. Sangma (both for Tura).