National media swamp Nagaland on LS poll day
DIMAPUR, APRIL 9
CONTRARY to the almost flabby, unenthusiastic response of the public, the interest of the national news industry surrounding the Lok Sabha elections in the North eastern states of India, particular Nagaland showed a touch of fever with increased hype even as the state went to polls April 9. National newspapers as well as the broadcast media have been showing marked interest in a parliamentary election that hitherto would have been just another political exercise polls if not for the ramifications involved this time, political observers said.
Either way, the coverage for today’s peaceful parliamentary polls was extensive: Giant news corporations such as BBC and CNN-IBN were in Nagaland while another national news network Times Now National tied up with Guwahati-based News Live, a 24×7 satellite news channel to cover the polls in Nagaland as well.
Probably for the first time for the BBC, the broadcasting giant dispatched a television crew exclusively to cover the elections in Nagaland. The BBC crew was in Dimapur since Tuesday, April 8 and covered the voting in Dimapur on April 9.
The BBC crew comprised news producer Akanksha Saxena, BBC correspondent Sanjoy Majumder, and cameraperson Bhas Solanki. The new team also filmed an interaction with young Naga professionals in the afternoon in the city. The interaction discussed current issues facing the state and region, and expectations of the electorate in Nagaland from the Lok Sabha polls.
Also, national news channel Times Now tied up with News Live, a 24×7 satellite news channel from the house of Pride East Entertainments. As per the agreement between the two channels, with polling starting from the North East, Times Now telecast the news and feeds covered by News Live, starting Monday. Feeds on election coverage at different constituencies at the later stage will also be shared on 12 and 14 April. To cover the polling, News Live deployed 17 OB (outside broadcasting) vans and 17 journalists to the region.
The interest of the media in the elections was reflected further by the election commission launching a webcast portal to bring the April 9 events to internet users.
The Election Commission ‘webcasted’ the Lok Sabha elections held in 84 polling booths in the state to ensure free and fair voting. The webcast facility was set up in 21 polling booths in Kohima, 20 in Dimapur, and the rest in 10 other districts.
State-run telecom company BSNL provided broadband connectivity for the webcast.
Election on Tuesday was one of the most peaceful – and the most tepid, almost disinterested – of election Nagaland has ever seen in the recent times. State election officials have claimed that the voter turnout in Nagaland was more than 70 % but there appears to be a sense of disbelief at the numbers, considering the general ambience, presence and activity during the day. Most people are rebutting and questioning the percentage.
However, official confirmation is awaited. At the time of writing this news report different electoral officials were offering different voters’ turnout percentage. For instance, one polling official in Dimapur said the turnout was 70 % while another official had already informed some national newspapers that the percentage was ‘81%’. Another polling officer claimed that the percentage was 84%. Official statement has yet to be received.
The Lok Sabha poll has chief minister Neiphiu Rio pitted against Congress candidate KV Pusa. Rio’s Naga People’s Front is a member of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA). Also Akhei Achumi is contesting on the Socialist Party (India) ticket.