Assembly polls: Over 50% turnout recorded in 59 Assembly seats in Meghalaya

Shillong, Feb 27: Polling in 59 Assembly seats in Meghalaya was by and large peaceful on Tuesday which saw a turnout of over 50 per cent till 4pm.

Though the polling was to end at 4 pm as fixed by the Election Commission, voting however continued in many polling booths where voters have already stood in queues.

“It is sure that the overall voting percentage would increase after those standing in queues finish to cast their votes,” Meghalaya chief electoral officer, F.R. Kharkongor said.

Voting was held in 3,025 polling stations amid technical glitches when it began at 7 am.

Meghalaya has a total of 18.09 lakh voters, and the voting in Williamnagar constituency having 58 polling booths has been adjourned following the killing of NCP candidate, Jonathone N. Sangma in an IED blast in East Garo Hills district on February 18.

Kharkongor admitted delay at the start of the polling due to technical snag in both electronic voting machines (EVMs) and voter verifiable paper audit trails (VVPATs).

“We have to replace 31 EVMs and 41 VVPATs immediately,” he said.

Among the prominent voters who casted their votes including the first citizen of the state, Governor Ganga Prasad who exercised his franchise at Oakland polling station under North Shillong Assembly constituency.

Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma who casted his vote at Chengkompara polling station in Ampati assembly constituency expressed confidence that the Congress would cross the magic-figure of 31 in the 60-member Assembly.

Sangma contested from two seats – Ampati and Songsak.

Sangma the chief architect of the Congress win on 29 seats in the 2013 elections is contesting from two assembly seats Ampati and Songsak

In Songsak Sangma takes on two-time National People s Party legislator Nihim D. Shira while in Ampati he is in a direct fight against Bharatiya Janata Party nominee Bakul Hajong.

Hoping Stone Lyngdoh who was President of the Hill State People s Democratic Party (HSPDP) till his death had successfully contested from two Assembly seats — the erstwhile Pariong (now Mawthadraishan) and Nongstoin in the 1988 elections.

Asked whether the Congress has already decided to choose its partners in case it fell short of majority the veteran Congress said: “We do have lots of good friends.”

In the 2013 assembly elections the Congress won in 29 seats and later increased its tally to 30 after it won the Chokpot Assembly by-poll in 2015.

The Congress — ruling the state for a decade — has fielded candidates in all 60 seats of which 59 saw polling on Tuesday.

The combined regional alliance comprising United Democratic Party HSPDP and Garo National Council also was gung-ho about electoral victory.

“From reports that I have received so far we are confident to unseat the Congress from power and form a pro- people and corruption-free government ” UDP chief Donkupar Roy told reporter.

The NPP which won two seats in the 2013 assembly poll and is fighting the elections alone is hopeful of increasing the numbers as five former Congress legislators are contesting on NPP symbol this time.

“We are hopeful of emerging as the single largest party in the Assembly and form the government ” NPP President Conrad K. Sangma said.
However seven of its legislators have since quit and jumped on to the bandwagon of the alliance formed by the BJP National People s Party (NPP) and newly floated People s Democratic Front (PDF).

Former Union Minister and NPP candidate Agatha K Sangma Home Minister H.D.R. Lyngdoh of the Congress Leader of Opposition Donkupar Roy of the UDP and HSPDP chief Ardent Miller Basaiawmoit also exercised their franchise.

As many as 340 polling stations have been categorised as “critical” and 580 as “vulnerable”.

Balloting in 183 polling stations is being webcast to be made available at the offices of Chief Electoral Officer or District Electoral Officer and the Election Commission state Chief Electoral Officer Frederick Roy Kharkongor said.

As many as 66 all-women polling stations and 61 model polling stations have been set up.

Mawlai constituency in East Khasi Hills district has the highest voters at 42 670 and Dalu in West Garo Hills the lowest 18 640 voters.

In all 106 companies of central armed police forces have been deployed to ensure peaceful polls he said.

In 2013 Meghalaya Assembly elections the voters turnout was recorded at 87.97 per cent.

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