Over 75 percent polling exercised in Meghalaya

Meghalaya elections
Voters shows their ink-finger marked fingers after casting their votes for the Meghalaya assembly election, at a polling station in Ri Bhoi on February 27 | ANI

Over 75 percent voting of the 21 lakh voters exercised their franchise in the elections to the 60-member Meghalaya assembly on February 27.

“Polling was held peacefully across 59 assembly constituencies in Meghalaya, except stray incidents of violence and glitches in EVMs, in which 75.1 percent voter turnout was reported till 5 pm out of 21 lakh voters,” chief electoral officer Fredrick Roy Kharkongor said.

He said the voting percentage would rise as votes were still being cast in some districts and reports have not come in from far-flung polling stations.

“This figure would rise and we expect that it would be around the 2018 assembly election turnout, which was 86.9 percent as polling is still on as we speak in some polling stations Ri-Bhoi, South West Garo Hills and other districts,” Kharkongor said.

Voting began at 7 am in 3419 polling stations across the state and people, especially women and first-time voters, queued up early to cast their votes.

Stray incidents of poll-related violence were reported in Phulbari (West Garo Hills,) West Shillong (East Khasi Hills) and Umroi (Ri-Bhoi) constituencies and 31 people have been arrested so far in connection with the violence.

“The intensity of the campaign, the noise, the velocity, aggression has increased this time compared to the last elections. This is due to the entry of more political actors into the fray this time,” he said.

He further added that the seizures have also increased 20 times from the previous election. Cash, drugs, liquor, gold and other items worth Rs. 74.18 crore were seized in the run-up to the elections.

Moreover, 2000 voters residing in Assam were allowed to cast their votes in 6 polling stations under Mawhati constituency following the intervention of authorities from Assam and Meghalaya.

Meanwhile, the ruling National People’s Party (NPP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) both exuded confidence in forming the government.

Chief minister Conrad Sangma said that the NPP would secure a second straight term.

“We are getting a good response from across the state. People are coming out in large numbers to vote. It is a good sign for democracy and we are confident to retain power,” Sangma told UNI over the phone after casting his votes at Walbakgre polling station under the South Tura assembly constituency in West Garo Hills district.

On the other hand, a senior BJP leader said he was certain his party would be leading the government once the after-polls results are out on March 2.

“We have fielded candidates in all 60 assembly seats. People will vote for progressive development which we (BJP) have promised in our party manifesto. Therefore, we are confident to lead a BJP-led government,” veteran BJP legislator, Alexander Laloo Hek told UNI.

Hek, who is seeking re-election for the sixth consecutive time from Pynthorumkhrah assembly seat, claimed the saffron party will make impressive gains.

“We are expecting to get a double-digit in the 60-member Meghalaya Assembly as people want a BJP government and a corruption-free government in Meghalaya,” he said.

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