| Security forces check a vehicle during the night blockade in Shillong on Wednesday. Picture by UB Photos |
Shillong, May 2: A meeting of all political parties in Meghalaya will be convened next week to work out a solution to the current imbroglio on voter registration.
Under pressure from several quarters and with incidents of arson being reported from different parts of Khasi-Jaintia hills, chief minister Mukul Sangma today announced that all the recognised political parties of the state would be meeting on May 8 to hammer out a solution on the demands of agitating social organisations in relation to the enrolment of voters.
The recognised political parties include the Congress, the NCP, the United Democratic Party, the BJP and the Hill State People’s Democratic Party, among others.
The decision was taken following a review meeting chaired by the chief minister after returning from New Delhi yesterday.
The UDP had first demanded that an all-party meeting be convened by the government. The demand was backed by the Opposition NCP.
“We have reason to believe that something productive will emerge from the all-party meeting and from there, we would be taking appropriate steps,” Sangma told reporters.
He also said the agitating social organisations — Khasi Students’ Union (KSU), Federation of Khasi, Jaintia and Garo People (FKJGP) and the Hynniewtrep National Youth Front (HNYF) — would be called for negotiations at a later date after the all-party meeting.
Stating that voters’ registration would not be halted, the chief minister said, “Every genuine citizen who is above 18 years of age should be allowed to register as voters so that they, too, can participate in the democratic process.”
Sangma said the registration mechanism is not without a system of checks and balances as the election authorities have already filed cases against six individuals who have submitted fake documents in support of their claim as Indian citizens.
“I have also ordered that all similar cases in the past should be reopened and the guilty punished,” he said.
The agitating organisations will be meeting again tomorrow where they are likely to announce their next course of action as the three-day night road blockade will conclude at 5am tomorrow.
Speaking to reporters, additional chief electoral officer Bhalang Dhar said from January till April this year, around 299 claims for enrolment as voters have been rejected by the election authorities.
However, these claims concern only the Assembly segments within the capital.
Under Shillong South constituency, 383 claims were accepted, 206 rejected, while in Nongthymmai constituency, 337 were accepted and 34 rejected. In Shillong West, 237 were accepted and one was rejected while under Shillong North, 340 were accepted and two rejected.
In Shillong East, 473 claims were accepted and 31 were rejected while in Mawlai, 384 were accepted and five rejected. In Pynthorumkhrah, 547 were accepted and 20 rejected.
“As the electoral registration officers were not satisfied with the documents which were submitted to support the claim to Indian citizenship, the 299 applicants for voter registration were rejected,” Dhar said.
He also clarified that the mandate of the voter facilitation cell at the deputy commissioner’s office is only to provide and accept forms for enrolment. The documents are then sent to the concerned electoral registration officer for scrutiny before any prospective voter can be registered.