The Telegraph
Tuesday , February 18 , 2014
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No brouhaha over polls

Shillong, Feb. 17: There are just seven days left before over eight lakh people seal the fate of 212 candidates who are battling to be elected to the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council and the Jaintia Hills Autonomous District Council. The electioneering process, though, is low-key.

The Khasi council, with 1,148 polling stations and 6,68,398 voters, comprises four districts and two sub-divisions, while the Jaintia council, with 344 polling stations and 2,09,217, has two districts and one sub-division.

Altogether 123 candidates are contesting 29 seats in the Khasi council, of which 12 are women candidates, while 89 candidates are in the fray for the Jaintia hills council, including two women.

However, unlike last year’s Assembly polls where the electioneering was visible and audible, the elections to the two councils are low-key except in a few pockets. The enthusiasm that one witnessed last year is somehow missing in this election.

Perhaps, this is a trend. Over the years, the council polls have failed to evoke much enthusiasm among the voters. The same goes for parliamentary elections.

In constituencies located within the city limits, candidates usually undertake door-to-door campaigns to personally appeal to the electorate to vote for them. In the hinterland where villages are spread far and wide, candidates organise public gatherings

There are also voices, which feel that the councils are no longer needed since Meghalaya is already a separate state and no longer part of the erstwhile composite state of Assam. Meghalaya was created in January 1972, and the councils, including the one in the Garo Hills, are institutions under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.

For the February 24 elections, the state government is spending around Rs 9.06 crore. It is to be seen on Monday next whether the status quo of low voter turnout during council polls remains unaffected or the trend is reversed. Counting of votes will take place on February 27.