The Telegraph
Friday , April 11 , 2014
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Tura trumps Shillong in turnout

Shillong, April 10: Voters of Tura parliamentary constituency outnumbered electors of Shillong parliamentary constituency squarely and women proved to be more enthusiastic in the battle for New Delhi.

In yesterday’s polls, 10,80,845 general voters out of 15,65,820 came out to exercise their right to franchise in 2,562 polling stations in Meghalaya. The voter turnout in the entire state was 69.03 per cent.

The turnout in the Shillong parliamentary seat was 63.58 per cent, an increase of just 1.35 per cent compared to the 2009 Lok Sabha polls while 78.13 per cent of the voters in Tura parliamentary constituency voted, an increase of 10.47 per cent compared to five years ago.

In the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, the turnout in Shillong was 62.23 per cent while in Tura it was 67.66 per cent.

In terms of numbers, out of the 979,521 (479,543 males and 499,978 females) general electors in Shillong, 622,760 voted (295,412 males and 327,348 females).

In Tura, out of 586,299 general electors (297,090 male and 289,209 female), 458,085 (232,329 male and 225,756 female) voted.

In the entire state, the highest voter turnout Assembly constituency-wise was in Mahendraganj under South West Garo Hills district.

The constituency — which is being represented by Dikkanchi D. Shira of the Congress who is the wife of chief minister Mukul Sangma — recorded a turnout of 86.4 per cent.

The second highest turnout was Ampati constituency, also under South West Garo Hills, being represented by the chief minister.

The turnout at Ampati was 85.29 per cent.

The lowest turnout was witnessed in Pynursla constituency under Shillong parliamentary seat. The constituency in East Khasi Hills district, which is being represented by forest minister Prestone Tynsong, saw a voter turnout of 52.65 per cent only.

The Assembly constituency under Shillong parliamentary seat with the highest turnout was Khliehriat in East Jaintia Hills where 83.42 per cent of voters cast their ballots.

The percentage of women who came out to vote in Shillong parliamentary seat was 65.47 per cent while in Tura it was 78.06 per cent.

In the entire state, the turnout of women voters was 70.09 per cent while men voters registered a turnout of 67.95 per cent.

Ironically, there is only one woman candidate in this Lok Sabha poll in Meghalaya — Ivoryna Shylla, who is contesting as an Independent from the Shillong seat.

Meghalaya, though dubbed a “matrilineal state”, has always seen men dominating the political scene since its inception.

But it is only in the present Assembly that four women were elected and of them, three are cabinet ministers. Prior to the 2013 polls, never before did the electorate vote more than three women at a stretch to the Assembly.

Further, out of the 36 Assembly segments under the Shillong constituency, the turnout in 21 of them was below the average of 63.58 per cent.

In the Tura seat, consisting of 24 Assembly segments, the turnout in 13 segments was below the average of 78.13 per cent.

Meghalaya chief electoral officer Prashant Naik, while releasing the data, said there could be several reasons as to why the turnout was not up to the mark, particularly in the rural areas.

“Factors like the weather, where in some places in Sohra there was heavy downpour, the shutdown called by the HNLC and others, could have been responsible for the low turnout,” he told reporters.

Naik, however, said the turnout reflected the “people’s will”.

“It (turnout) was because of everybody’s effort.”

Although the election department had been conducting several motivational programmes through various means to generate poll awareness among eligible citizens, the turnout was lacking parity.

Till yesterday morning, the department had been sending text messages wooing voters to cast ballots.

It had even offered an incentive where five lucky voters in each Assembly segment under the two parliamentary constituencies would be rewarded with a prize worth Rs 2,000.

The winners will be announced on April 15.

However, like in earlier years, the enthusiasm among voters in Lok Sabha elections has not been too conspicuous, unlike in the Assembly or district council polls.

Perhaps, candidates and political parties need to do more to ensure that the “disconnect” dissipates with time.

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