Security personnel at East Garo Hills on Friday. Telegraph picture
Shillong, Feb. 22: The fruits of intense electioneering by the 345 candidates in Meghalaya will be sealed in electronic voting machines tomorrow by over 15 lakh voters across the state’s 60 constituencies.
The voters will exercise their franchise in 2,485 polling stations to elect members to the ninth Meghalaya Assembly amid an election boycott call in the Khasi-Jaintia hills by the proscribed Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council.
The Khasi-Jaintia hills region houses 36 constituencies — 33 reserved for Scheduled Tribe candidates and three open to all categories — and the Garo hills are home to 24 constituencies — 22 reserved and two open.
To ensure free, fair and peaceful polls amid the presence of about 900 hyper sensitive polling stations, around 91 companies of central paramilitary forces have been deployed across the state.
Voting will commence from 7am and will continue till 4pm.
This year’s election is also significant as it would be for the first time that polls would be held amid a 36-hour strike call by a militant outfit. The strike commenced from 6pm this evening and will continue till 6am on Sunday.
In view of the bandh called by the HNLC, the East Khasi Hills administration has arranged public transport to ferry voters for the polls.
East Khasi Hills deputy commissioner Sanjay Goyal said the district administration would press into service more than 100 public transport vehicles in the city and in the rural areas to enable the electorate to reach to the polling booths and vote.
These vehicles would ply in all the major routes throughout the day and would be available free of cost.
People can contact the control room (1800-345-3651) if they encounter any difficulty.
In the 2008 Assembly polls, there was a voter turnout of nearly 90 per cent.
Prominent among those whose fate will be determined for the next five years include chief minister Mukul M. Sangma, PCC president D.D. Lapang, UDP chief Donkupar Roy, HSPDP supremo Hopingstone Lyngdoh, NPP leader Conrad K. Sangma and NCP president Sanbor Shullai.
Members of the Mukul M. Sangma cabinet whose destiny will also be sealed include deputy chief ministers Rowell Lyngdoh and Bindo M. Lanong, home minister H.D.R. Lyngdoh, education minister R.C. Laloo, forest minister Prestone Tynsong, power minister Abu Taher Mondal, social welfare minister John A. Lyngdoh, water resources minister A.L. Hek and public health engineering minister Shitlang Pale.
Among the 345 candidates, 25 are women and the well-known faces include the chief minister’s wife Dikkanchi D. Shira, urban affairs minister Ampareen Lyngdoh, PCC working president Deborah C. Marak and former ministers Roshan Warjri and Irin Lyngdoh.
Till January this year, the outgoing Assembly had 58 legislators in the House of 60.
However, more than 20 legislators had resigned before filing their nomination papers earlier this month to avoid disqualification as they had chosen to contest tomorrow’s polls from political entities other than those from which they were elected in 2008.
Of the 58 legislators, three — Friday Lyngdoh, J.D. Rymbai and Nehlang Lyngdoh — have not sought re-election.