Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi casts his vote for the presidential election in Dispur on Thursday. Picture by UB Photos
July 19: Sangma siblings and NCP legislators, James and Conrad, clung on to hope that their father and presidential candidate Purno A. Sangma would get through, as 58 of the 59 legislators in the 60-strong Meghalaya Assembly cast their votes in the conference hall of the MLA Hostel in Shillong this morning.
Lone woman legislator and urban affairs minister M. Ampareen Lyngdoh exercised her voting right in New Delhi, while Sangma had resigned.
Meghalaya chief minister Mukul Sangma, a bÍte noire of Sangma, was the first to vote, saying he did not expect any setback for UPA nominee Pranab Mukherjee.
Conrad, who is also the Opposition leader, said, “Our prayers and hopes are with Sangma. We have already mentioned that we are definitely proud of the fact that P.A. Sangma is contesting this election. And, therefore, our prayers and our hopes are with him and we do hope that he gets through.”
“It will be a very proud moment I think for every citizen of the state and the region as a whole and in fact for all the tribals in the country. So we are all hoping, and let us see what happens,” he said.
Asked whether several Meghalaya legislators supported his father, Conrad said: “I think we will come to know on July 22, the day of the counting. We should be seeing some support for him. If there was cross voting or not is difficult to say. But since it is a conscience vote and a secret ballot, most do not have to worry whether any action will be taken against them.”
Next door in Guwahati, Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi was the first to cast his vote in the 126-member Assembly and the Opposition’s AIUDF leader Sirajuddin Ajmal the last, but both were more than sure of an emphatic victory for the UPA nominee.
Gogoi said he was very happy for Mukherjee for whom the number 13 has proved lucky.
“I used to live in the same bungalow at 13 Talkatora Road. It has proved lucky for both of us. He has reached Raisina Hill. As far as Assam is concerned, we will get 111 votes, maybe even a couple more,” he said.
Only Sahidul Alam Choudhury of the AGP was absent, as he was unwell, senior party leader Phani Bhushan Choudhury said. This was confirmed by assistant returning officer G.P. Das.
More than 80 per cent of votes were cast by noon and Assam PCC president and Rajya Sabha MP Bhubaneswar Kalita, who cast his vote in Guwahati, said he expected 90 per cent votes in favour of Mukherjeee.
All 40 members of the Mizoram Legislative Assembly cast their votes before noon, the first being Brig. (retd) Thenphunga Sailo, who at 90 is the oldest member.
The Opposition parties Mizo National Front (MNF) with three MLAs and the Zoram Nationalist Party (ZNP) had already announced their support for Sangma.
Voting went off smoothly in the Tripura Assembly. Altogether 46 of 49 Left Front MLAs, barring two RSP and the lone CPI legislators — are believed to have cast their votes in favour of Pranab Mukherjee as did the 10 Congress MLAs and its ally lone INPT MLA.
In Nagaland, all 60 MLAs cast their votes in Kohima, in all probability for Mukherjee.
Similar was the case in Manipur.
Gaikhangam, president of Manipur PCC and home minister, said all the 60 members supported the UPA candidate.
Speaker of the Arunachal Assembly, Wangling Lowangdong, was the first to exercise his franchise followed by chief minister Nabam Tuki and rest of the legislators.
Of the 60 legislators, 58 cast their votes here while one, Phosum Khimhum, voted from New Delhi.
Legislator Jomin Tayeng could not cast his vote due to ill health. He is undergoing treatment at a hospital in Guwahati.
The ballots will be flown to Delhi tomorrow.