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Garo hills voters brave squall, turnout high
Purno toes a different line

Tura, April 9: Former Lok Sabha Speaker and National People’s Party (NPP) candidate P.A. Sangma today toed a different line. “I don’t expect any major role in the new government formation; the NDA has enough experienced people. I am happy that I will be part of the change,” he said.

The entire election campaign of the NPP had revolved around the idea that the BJP and the NDA would form the next government and he (Purno) would be inducted in the cabinet.

On Narendra Modi’s chances as Prime Minister, Purno said, “Nobody can stop Modi from becoming Prime Minister.”

He cast his vote today at Walbakgre Lower Primary School, accompanied by his daughter and sitting MP Agatha, wife Soradini, sons James and Conrad, daughters-in-law Jasmine Bonny and Mehtab Chandee, and granddaughter, three-year-old Amara, at 11am.

Purno Sangma, who began his campaign on a wheelchair, was seen walking to the polling station without any support, accompanied by his daughter. He smiled at the newspersons at the polling station and asked, “All have voted or what?” His legislator son James Sangma exercised his franchise at Dadenggre, the constituency he represents in the Meghalaya Assembly.

Congress candidate Daryl William Momin cast his vote at Tura Government College, accompanied by his father Fersen Momin, mother Muani Ch. Momin and younger brother Issak William.

Momin sounded very confident about his prospects: “If I am voted, I will work to bring Garo hills to the forefront in the national arena. My core areas of interests will be education, health and tourism.”

On the electioneering mood, Momin said, “It was a good experience; we did our best to tell the people whom to vote. I am feeling proud and hoping for the best.”

He also extended best wishes to his rival, Purno Sangma.

When asked about Momin, the NPP leader said, “He is a brilliant boy. I wish him good luck. But the need of the hour is different; I am contesting because of necessity.”

On the fractured opinion among youths on the demand for a separate state of Garoland, Sangma said, “Educated youths are worried. I will ensure that employment opportunities are created within the existing state of Meghalaya and also press for a new state.” In all polling stations across the five districts, voters came out in large numbers from 7am to exercise their right to vote. Tura town, which has seen low turnout in previous years, saw a huge participation.

Storm no bar

People in thunderstorm-affected parts of Gambegre, Dalu and Rimrangpara in West Garo Hills today cast their votes despite inclement weather. There was a heavy downpour, coupled with a thunderstorm in the area last night.

But people showed their zest and courage and came out in large numbers to vote. At least 3,040 houses were damaged and displaced households have moved to shelters in the neighbourhood.

Returning officer Pravin Bakshi said, “The flow of information from the affected area is very slow, due to a lack of connectivity. We have sent adequate rations to the area. We have inputs that voting was peaceful and people have respected the democratic exercise.”

He also said that no camps were set up as yet as people prefer to stay with relatives. National Highway 51, which connects Tura to Dalu, near Rimrangpara-Kherapara junction, about 40 from here, was blocked by felled trees. It took almost three hours for the administration to clear the route. Bakshi said, “The district administration will reach out to the area and will assess the damage and take necessary action tomorrow.”


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