Gangtok, Apr 12: Almost 70 percent of the electorate in Sikkim Saturday voted for the lone Lok Sabha seat and the 32-member state assembly in eight hours of polling, officials said.
Balloting picked up as the day progressed, as voters turned up in large numbers at the 538 polling booths across the state. Polling was scheduled to close by 5 p.m.
Sikkim has a 362,326-strong electorate, out of which 175,549 or 48.45 percent are women. It is the least populated state in India.
In 2009, an astounding 83.76 percent voters had cast their ballot in the Lok Sabha polls.
“By 3 p.m., 69.32 percent of the total electorate had voted,” said Anil Raj Rai, additional secretary at the state poll panel.
“Voting percentage almost doubled from 27.42 percent at 11 a.m. to 52.49 percent by 1 p.m.,” he added.
“No untoward incident has been reported anywhere and voting is taking place in a peaceful manner,” Rai said.
He said there were some technical difficulties with the electronic voting machines (EVMs) in some places but these were sorted out quickly.
“Data from hard to reach areas is still reaching us and the figure might increase even after the routine compilation ends,” he said.
Six candidates are in the fray for the Lok Sabha seat. Sitting MP Prem Das Rai of the Sikkim Democratic Front is re-contesting while Akar Dhoj Limbu from the Congress, Nar Bahadur Khatiwara from the Bharatiya Janata Party and Kaushal Rai of the Aam Aadmi Party are hoping to give him a fight.
Prem Das Rai said anti-incumbency was not a factor, and drew confidence from the fact that Sikkim has elected SDF candidates in all five Lok Sabha elections since 1996.
Only the SDF, Sikkim Krantikari Morcha and the Congress have put up candidates in all the 32 assembly seats, the BJP in 13 and the Trinamool Congress in seven. The SDF had made a clean sweep of all the seats in 2009.