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First woman chairperson for Khasi council

KHADC chairperson of Teilinia Thangkhiew presides over the House on Thursday. Picture by UB Photos

Shillong, March 6: The 62-year-old Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC) today created history by electing a woman to the chair.

Teilinia Thangkhiew, a two-time council member from Mylliem constituency, became the first woman to be elected to the post.

Her victory over senior Congress member Manstudy Nongrem was not without a scare though, because of “human errors” committed by two members whose votes were declared invalid.

Thangkhiew was the consensus candidate of the All Regional Parties’ Alliance (ARPA). The alliance, with 17 members, comprises the Hill State People’s Democratic Party (HSPDP), United Democratic Party (UDP) and the Khun Hynniewtrep National Awakening Movement (KHNAM).

The Congress-led Khasi Hills United Democratic Alliance (KHUDA)-II has 12 members.

East Khasi Hills deputy commissioner Sanjay Goyal conducted elections to the council chairperson. The council comprises 30 members. Of them, 29 are elected members and one nominated member.

Though it was obvious that Thangkhiew would win the election against Nongrem, the voting to decide the actual winner sent both sides (ARPA and KHUDA) into a tizzy when two votes of ARPA members were found “invalid” during the counting.

ARPA members, under the leadership of HSPDP member Ardent Miller Basaiawmoit, heaved a sigh of relief when Goyal announced Thangkhiew’s election. While Thangkhiew polled 15 votes, Nongrem garnered 12 votes.

The two votes were rejected following a thorough scrutiny by Goyal in the presence of members from both ARPA and KHUDA. The ARPA leaders did not consider the mistake intentional.

Basaiawmoit, who refused to divulge the names of the two members who committed the mistake, said in one ballot it was found that the name of a member was not written on the ballot paper. In another ballot, a member forgot to sign.

“It was a genuine human error and honest mistake. Though the ballots cast by the two ARPA members were found invalid, they, however, voted in favour of our candidate (Thangkhiew),” Basaiawmoit stated.

All the members felicitated Thangkhiew, 31, perhaps the youngest to occupy the chair. Nongrem, who was gracious in defeat, termed the contest a “friendly match”.

In her acceptance speech, Thangkhiew, who termed Nongrem a “worthy opponent”, assured that impartiality would be maintained in the conduct of the House. She also appealed to the members to exemplify that politics was a “mission” and not “cheap and dirty”. Later, she announced that the elections to the office of the chief executive member (CEM) and deputy chairman would be conducted on Saturday.

Basaiawmoit, who is ARPA’s candidate contesting for the CEM post, said he filed his nomination papers today while the alliance’s candidate for the post of deputy chairman has been left to the UDP to decide.