Officials in Meghalaya said the polling exercise was slow to start with, owing to a shutdown called by rebel group Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council to protest the ‘Indian democratic drama’. But the queues outside 2,485 polling stations grew longer as the day progressed.
“Some 85% voters cast their votes by the 4pm deadline in an atmosphere of peace ensured by the security forces,” Meghalaya’s chief electoral officer P Naik said from Shillong. The percentage of voting in the 2008 polls was 89.04%.
Naik’s Nagaland counterpart J Alam remained incommunicado, but reports collated from the districts pointed to 83% of votes having been cast by 3pm. The polling percentage in the 2008 assembly elections was 85%.
Contrary to expectations, militants on ceasefire mode did not interfere with the polling process in Nagaland. But voting had to be stalled at Lahdoigarh polling station in Tamlu assembly constituency following objections from Assam. The polling station is on a disputed area on the border between Assam and Nagaland.
Voting in Mon and Wokha districts was also delayed owing to faulty electronic voting machines.
Saturday’s voting will decide the fate of 245 candidates in Meghalaya and 185 in Nagaland. They include Meghalaya chief minister Mukul Sangma, his Nagaland counterpart Neiphiu Rio, former Lok Sabha speaker Purno A Sangma’s sons James and Conrad, former Meghalaya chief ministers DD Lapang and Donkupar Roy. Also in the line of fire is Imkong L Imchen who resigned as Nagaland home minister after being arrested last week for carrying Rs. 1.1crore and small arms during campaigning.