By Felix Anthony
Miao, April 11, 2019: The first time voters in Arunachal Pradesh on April 11 brimmed with enthusiasm as they exercised their franchise in the northeastern Indian state.
“It feels totally special today to cast my first vote,” said Namwom Wanglee, who is among 84 million first-time voters in the 2019 general election in India. “It is an out of the world feeling to exercise what we have learned in the textbook,” the voter from Miao, India’s easternmost constituency, told Matters India.
She lives some 2,500 kilometers east of New Delhi, the national capital, but the distance did not bother her from being part of the nation building, she said. She expressed the hope that her vote would help elect “the right leaders” to take her state as well as the nation to peace and prosperity.
The first of seven-phase general election was marked by reports of Electronic Voting Machine malfunction, missing names from voters’ list and sporadic violence that killed a man in Andhra Pradesh.
Polling was held in 91 of the 543 constituencies spread across 18 states and two Union Territories. Voters in Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Sikkim also voted for their legislative assemblies.
Polling will end on May 19 and the results would be announced on May 23.
Arunachal Pradesh, the farthest state bordering Myanmar and China, polled 79.1 percent.
Bishop George Palliparambil of Miao, who was the first to cast vote in the booth assigned to him, congratulated the first timers for their enthusiasm to be part of the mammoth exercise to choose leaders of the world’s largest democracy. He also lauded the Arunachal voters for the peaceful conduct of the election in the state.
Another first timer, Mishum Changmi, said he voted for the change society needed. “There are many educated but jobless youth in our society these days. I am voting for a leader who would make jobs available” he said.
Kanman Ronrang of Balinong village in Changlang district too showed similar enthusiasm to exercise his right to vote.
The first phase saw elections in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jammu and Kashmir, Lakshadweep, Maharashtra, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Odisha, Sikkim, Telangana, Tripura, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal.
Polling in northeastern states was off the charts, as Tripura, Nagaland and Manipur and Sikkim posted figures around 80 percent. West Bengal topped the chart with a turnout of 80.9 percent, the lowest turnout was in Bihar — 50.3 percent.