Shillong, Apr 11: Polling began peacefully for the two Lok Sabha seats in Meghalaya at around 7am this morning. More than 19 lakh electorates are expected to exercise their franchise in the elections in which the ruling National People’s Party (NPP)-led Meghalaya Democratic Alliance is making all efforts to ensure that their candidates win both the seats. Large numbers of electorates are expected to exercise their adult franchise in the later part of the day.
"They will come out later in the afternoon," said John Sohtun, a Congress worker manning a stall outside a polling station in Malki. Meghalaya has two Parliamentary seats - Shillong and Tura. Shillong Parliamentary seat consists of 36 Assembly segments covering Ri-Bhoi, Khasi and Jaintia hills, while Tura seat spreads over 24 Assembly segments in five districts of Garo hills.
Altogether, 19, 14,795 electorates, including 9, 65174 female voters, would exercise their franchise to decide the fate of nine candidates in the fray in 3,167 polling stations. A total of 11, 97,806 voters would exercise their franchise for the Shillong parliamentary constituency, while in Tura 7,16,989 voters from 24 Assembly constituencies would cast their vote during the elections. There are 3,167 polling booths including 60 polling stations manned only by women officials.
Meghalaya has a total of 4,686 voters who are persons with disabilities, including 800 visually impaired voters. The Election Commission has also introduced Braille elector photo identity card (EPIC) and special Braille ballot papers will be used in each polling booth in the state to ensure inclusive elections. 40 companies of the central armed police force have been deployed across the state to ensure free and fair polls.
Former Union Minister and two -time Congress MP Vincent H Pala is pitted against Jemino Mawthoh of the United Democratic Party (UDP), who is also supported by the allies of the Meghalaya Democratic Alliance government, Sanbor Shullai of the BJP, and Independents Romeo Phira Rani, Samuel Hashah, and T.H.S. Bonney in Shillong parliamentary seat. Pala, who is seeking re-election for a third consecutive term is confident to retain his berth in the Lok Sabha. In Tura parliamentary constituency, the Congress has fielded former Chief Minister Mukul Sangma against former Union Minister Agatha K Sangma of National People’s Party (NPP) and Meghalaya BJP vice president Rikman Momin.
The ruling Meghalaya Democratic Alliance is supporting Agatha and Mawthoh of as their common candidates from Tura and Shillong parliamentary seats respectively. Agatha, the lone woman candidate in the fray, is the sister of the Chief Minister and the youngest daughter of former Lok Sabha Speaker Purno Agitok Sangma, and Mawthoh is contesting on their party’s symbols - the UDP and the NPP, respectively. Polling also began in Selsella, under West Garo Hills, where an Assembly by-poll will be held along with the parliamentary polls, there are two female candidates — June Eliana R. Marak of the Congress and Ferlin C.A. Sangma of the NPP. Besides, there are two male candidates — Sayeedullah Nongrum of the UDP and Adorsho Sangma of the BJP. (UNI)