Campaigning ends, stage set for polling on Thursday

Campaigning ends
Wed, Apr 10, 2019

DICHEN ONGMU
GANGTOK:
The stage is set for polling in all 32 Assembly constituencies and the lone Lok Sabha seat in the State on Thursday as campaigning came to an end Tuesday evening.
A total of 4.32 lakh voters will cast two votes each to elect 32 MLAs and the lone Lok Sabha member during the first phase of nationwide general elections.
Sharing details of poll preparedness in the State, Chief Electoral Officer R. Telang said tranquil period has commenced in the State for the next 48 hours till the end of polling on April 11 evening. He assured the people that their votes will be 200 percent secret as Election Commission of India (ECI) is extremely sensitive on this issue and does not compromise on it. “Secrecy of vote is paramount for preserving democracy. Nobody’s vote is known to anybody,” he stressed. He further appealed the voters to exercise their franchise in a conscious manner freely without any fear.
“I am confident that all our teams will work with full sincerity and continue the momentum that we have achieved till the poll day,” he said.  
On the facilities provided for Persons with Disability (PwD) voters, Telang highlighted that for 20,142 PWD voters special arrangements have been made like wheel chairs at polling stations, ramps wherever possible and free transport facilities to help the PwD voters commute. Students below 18 years are appointed as volunteers to assist them, he added.
Among the 4,32,306 electors, 2,20,305 are male and 2,12,001 are female. While there are around 30,480 voters aged 18-19 years, 105-year-old Sumitra Rai is the oldest voter registered in Poklok Kamrang constituency, South Sikkim.
The State has a total of 567 polling stations with 120 polling stations being identified as critical. Adequate CAPF forces and micro-observers have been deputed at these critical polling stations which will have webcasting arrangements as well. The polling station with the lowest voter count is Pakjer primary school under Poklok Kamrang with 175 voters and the polling station with the highest voter count is Arithang junior high school room no.1 under Arithang constituency with 1,405 voters.
Kupup primary school under Gnathang-Machong area, situated at an altitude of 13,400 feet is the highest altitude polling station in the State with 288 voters.
The CEO informed that there are 39 all-women polling stations in the State which will be manned by all-women polling parties and police forces. Along with this, 28 model polling stations have been set up all over the State. A total of 3,600 polling personnel including reserve polling personnel have been deployed in total. A total of 1185 ballot units, 1185 VVPATs and 1185 control units will be put to use during the polling day. The State has been assigned 7 general observers, 1 police observer, 8 expenditure observers and 2 accessibility observers for the general elections, it was informed.
The total number of candidates contesting stands at 161 which includes 11 candidates for the Parliamentary constituency. 11 counting halls in 4 locations across the State will ensure smooth and timely completion of the counting process.
The CEO further highlighted that more than 42,000 mock votes have been cast during SVEEP awareness campaigns throughout the State covering 10 percent of the total voters of the State. He informed that allocation of all constituency voting machines, polling stations, polling parties and police teams have been randomised according to ECI guidelines so as to rule out any fallacies. He informed that one voter guide is also being handed over to each family and voter slips have also been distributed to individual voters.
The Inspector General of Police (Law & Order) Gyanendra Kumar Verma informed that the total police strength deployed for the elections all over the State is 4,000 police personnel including the para-military forces. He mentioned that the forces are being utilised to the optimum, right from guarding of the strong rooms, manning critical polling stations and all women polling stations, conducting area domination drives amongst others. All firearms have been deposited with the police forces except for those that are commissioned to be used by the law and order forces.
Verma informed that 49 sector police officers have been deputed along with 49 sub sector police officers and unaccounted cash and liquor amounting to Rs.18 lakh has been seized so far. He stated that prompt action has been taken and perpetrators have been booked. Total 26 cases have been registered so far related to polling violence.
Verma concluded that all security arrangements all over the State are in its prime thereby ensuring a safe environment for the voters of the State.


Area: 7096 Sq Km
Capital:Gangtok
Altitude: 5,840 ft
Population: 6.10 Lakhs
Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 ft. to over 28,509 ft above sea level
Climate:
Summer: Max- 21°C ; Min – 13°C
Winter: Max -13°C ; Min – 0.48°C
Rainfall: 325 cm per annum
Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi