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Stage set for council polls

- Foolproof security for elections in Meghalaya

Shillong, Feb. 22: The stage is all set for over eight lakh voters in 1,492 polling stations to elect 58 representatives to the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC) and the Jaintia Hills Autonomous District Council (JHADC) in Meghalaya on Monday.

Campaign ended today at 4pm with no untoward incident being reported from any quarter of the Khasi-Jaintia Hills region. Most of the candidates held rallies in their constituencies.

There are 29 seats each in the KHADC and JHADC while there are 123 and 89 candidates vying for a seat in KHADC and JHADC respectively. Polling will take place from 7am to 4pm.

Major parties in the fray include the Congress, United Democratic Party, Hill State People’s Democratic Party and the Khun Hynniewtrep National Awakening Movement. There are 27 Independents for the Khasi council and 36 for the Jaintia Hills council.

For the Monday polls, 5,968 officials will be deployed in 1,492 polling stations while 5,284 Meghalaya police personnel will be mobilised for the day. Around 10 companies of CRPF forces have been kept on standby in different police stations to counter any law and order problem that could arise in any of the polling booths.

The Meghalaya government, which is conducting the polls, has received 1,925 electronic voting machines (EVMs) from the Electronics Corporation of India Ltd (ECIL), Hyderabad. Around 15 engineers from ECIL are camping in the state to intervene in case hitches develop in the voting machines.

During the course of electioneering, the district administrations had asked all licensed arms holders to deposit their arms.

Poll officials have started moving to their respective destinations since yesterday while a majority of them will reach their assigned places tomorrow.

Commissioner and secretary (district council affairs department) Jopthiaw Lyngdoh said adequate arrangements had been made across the Khasi-Jaintia Hills to ensure free, fair and smooth elections.

While the international border has been sealed, the Meghalaya government has reached out to its Assam counterparts to ascertain that the elections run smoothly along the inter-state boundary. There are no records to show that there are “dual voters” in villages along the inter-state boundary, Lyngdoh said.

As the Meghalaya Energy Corporation Ltd (MeECL) has been resorting to load-shedding, Lyngdoh said the corporation has been requested not to resort to power cuts tomorrow, Monday and on Thursday, the day counting will take place. However, there are at least 27 villages, mostly in the West Khasi Hills, South West Khasi Hills and Ri Bhoi districts, which do not have any access to power supply.

Lyngdoh said West Khasi Hills deputy commissioner S. Kharlyngdoh “has procured around 50 solar lanterns to be used at polling stations where there is no electricity”.


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