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EC reviews poll preparedness

Shillong, Feb. 22: The Election Commission today reviewed Meghalaya’s preparedness for conducting election in the two Lok Sabha constituencies, Shillong and Tura, especially in the militancy-hit Garo hills region.

The Shillong seat, represented by Congress MP Vincent H. Pala, covers 36 Assembly constituencies in Khasi-Jaintia region. The Tura constituency, represented by Agatha K. Sangma, daughter of former Lok Sabha Speaker Purno A. Sangma, covers the rest of 24 Assembly seats falling under Garo hills.

Deputy election commissioner Alok Shukla oversaw the preparations for the Lok Sabha polls in a meeting here with Meghalaya chief electoral officer P. Naik, deputy commissioners and superintendents of police of all the 11 districts besides top government and police officials.

Sources said no specific agenda was laid out but the official had a threadbare discussion with state officials on the deteriorating law and order situation in Meghalaya, especially in Garo hills.

“Various aspects relating to preparedness of the state for the Lok Sabha polls were discussed during the meeting,” Naik told The Telegraph.

Shukla asked the state authorities to take all precautionary measures to ensure that the polls were conducted in a free and fair manner without external interference.

Asked if the voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) system would be used in the polls, the Meghalaya CEO said it was up to the discretion of the Commission but there had been no such discussion.

He also said the Commission might announce the dates for the next Lok Sabha polls in the country anytime in the coming weeks.

Meghalaya is perturbed by the alleged use of money power during elections and apprehensive over the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) in the elections allegedly because they are not “tamper proof.” Hence, there has been a growing demand to use VVPAT along with EVMs to ensure free and fair elections in the state.


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