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Turnout shows urban apathy... Rural voters show the way

Shillong, Feb. 24: The “urban apathy” of voters seemed to prevail in “abode of clouds”, judging by the turnout in yesterday’s election.

Despite being the nerve centre of all political activities, urban Meghalaya’s participation in yesterday’s battle of the ballot was disappointing while the rural populace turned out in huge numbers to decide who should get a place in the Assembly.

Had it not been for the voters in the rural areas, the turnout would not have been as massive as it turned out to be.

Meghalaya yesterday witnessed the turnout of 13,05,439 general electors out of the total 15,02,509 across 2,485 polling stations located under 60 constituencies in 11 districts.

With 7,43,309 male and 7,59,200 female voters, yesterday saw 6,33,818 (85.27 per cent) male and 6,71,621 (88.46 per cent) female electors who came out to vote.

Around 17,225 postal ballots were also received, taking the tally of votes cast to 13,22,664 or 88.06 per cent, and that too, in the face of the general strike called by the proscribed Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) in the Khasi-Jaintia Hills region.

In this year’s polls, Khliehriat constituency in East Jaintia Hills recorded the highest turnout of voters in the entire state — 93.3 per cent — where 29,362 out of 31,472 electors came to cast their vote.

North Shillong constituency in the heart of the city recorded the lowest turnout —71.45 per cent as only 17,395 electors out of 24,345 exercised their franchise.

Apart from the low turnout in North Shillong, the other urban constituencies too failed to record a higher turnout.

East Shillong recorded 73.63 per cent turnout as 15,797 out of 21,456 electors voted.

In West Shillong, the scenario was a little cheerful as the poll percentage stood at 78.35 per cent where 18,213 out of 23,246 voters turned out to vote.

In South Shillong, 20,611 out of 27,559 voters came out to the polling booths making the poll percentage stand at 74.79 per cent.

In Nongthymmai constituency, only 20,265 out of 28,280 voters exercised their franchise (71.66 per cent) while Mawlai, which has the highest number of electorate in the state, recorded 80.5 per cent turnout as 27,521 electors voted.

Pynthorumkhrah constituency recorded a turnout of 81.41 per cent as 20,248 out of 24,873 voters took part in voting.

In West Garo Hills, North Tura recorded 77.21 per cent while South Tura saw a turnout of 73.25 per cent. North Tura witnessed 19,860 voters out of the electorate of 25,722 while in South Tura, 18,834 out of 25,713 voters cast their vote.

The constituency with the lowest number of electorate in the state — Dalu in West Garo Hills — recorded a turnout of 89.26 per cent as 14,289 out of 16,009 voters came out to vote.

Speaking to reporters here today, state chief electoral officer Prashant Naik said “urban apathy” is an overall phenomenon prevailing across the country.

“We (election department) tried to create as much awareness as possible by taking up several activities under the Systematic Voters Education and Electoral Participation programme,” Naik said. “Our role is to motivate the people. But finally it is their choice.”

Counting of votes will take place on Thursday from 8am across 13 centres throughout the state.