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Marginal drop in voting percentage in Meghalaya bypolls, CM Sangma likely to win easy

According to Meghalaya chief electoral officer Frederick Roy Kharkongor, until 5pm, the poll percentage was 85.89% for Ranikor and 72.89% in South Tura. In February 27, poll percentage for Ranikor was 89.5%, while South Tura recorded 73.59%.

india Updated: Aug 24, 2018 00:03 IST
Hindustan Times, Shillong
voting percentage,Meghalaya bypoll,Conrad Sangma
Women with children on piggy back after casting their votes at a polling station in Ranikor constituency.(HT Photo)

Bypolls to 35-Ranikor and 51-South Tura assembly constituencies in Meghalaya which took off sharp at 7am on Thursday amid tight security and strict monitoring by election officials witnessed a marginal drop in polling percentage when compared to the polls held on February 27 this year.

At that time, the poll percentage for Ranikor was 89.5% while South Tura recorded 73.59%.

According to state chief electoral officer (CEO) Frederick Roy Kharkongor, until 5pm, the official closure time, the poll percentage was 85.89% for Ranikor despite inclement weather with heavy fog engulfing the area, while South Tura recorded a poll percentage of 72.89%.

“The figures may rise marginally because some reports from few polling stations which are far off and non-motorable are still being awaited,” Kharkongor told HT.

Stating that by and large, the bypolls went off smoothly, the CEO said there were a few technical glitches in both constituencies — 3 VVPAT machines and one Control Unit (CU) in Ranikor and 3 CUs in South Tura.

“These were immediately replaced and the polling passed off peacefully,” he said, pointing out that women, persons with disabilities and youth also came out in large numbers to exercise their franchise.

Kharkongor further informed that in Ranikor, the counting centre will be at the office of the deputy commissioner, Mawkyrwat, the district headquarters of South West Khasi Hills, while counting for South Tura will be held at the Extension Training Centre located next to the Social Mobilisation Experimentation and Learning Centre building (SMELC), Tura.

South Tura has a total of 30,231 voters including 14,846 males and 15,351 females, 33 service voters and one NRI in 36 polling stations. While the largest polling station is Matchakolgre with 1337 voters, the smallest is Leper Colony with 151 voters.

A runner running at brisk pace to relay information to a polling station which is inaccessible by road in Ranikor constituency. (HT Photo)

There are four candidates in the fray which include chief minister Conrad K Sangma of the NPP, Congress’ Charlotte W Momin, and two independents — former legislator John Leslee Sangma and Chris Kabul A Sangma.

Interestingly, barring John Leslee Sangma, the other three candidates cannot vote as they are registered in other constituencies.

Ranikor in South West Khasi Hills District has a total of 29,685 voters, including 15,183 males, 14,487 females and 15 service voters in 65 polling stations. While the largest polling station is Rangthong with 817 voters, the smallest is Nongbahjynrin with 12 voters only.

Here too, it’s a four-way contest with five-time sitting Congress legislator Martin M Danggo who resigned to join the ruling National People’s Party (NPP), Jackiush Sangma from the Congress, United Democratic Party’s Pius Marweiñ and sitting KHADC chief executive member PN Syiem of the People’s Democratic front fighting it out.

Early morning, the CM and his wife Mehtab Chandee accompanied his mother Soradini K Sangma and sister Agatha Sangma to cast their votes at Walbakgre LP School. Soon after, a confident but modest Conrad told journalists that every election is tough and challenging and that one must work real hard.

However, he said that people have realised it is not just about an MLA but it is about electing the chief minister. “Therefore they are equally excited and I am sure that we will come out in flying colours,” he remarked adding, “I am sure that we would come out victorious in this particular election.”

An interesting and unique component about this bypoll is that the state election department recruited 10 long-distance runners to act as messengers to five remote polling stations in Ranikor.

Large areas in this constituency are not connected by road, neither have access to electricity, telephone, leave alone cellular connection. In fact, during monsoon season they remain completely disconnected from the rest of the world.

Covering distances which from the nearest motorable road take an hour and a half to three hours, these young athletes move to and fro to the various remote polling stations to facilitate live communication between the polling booth and the designated sector officer. According to the CEO, their run begins at 7am, second one at 12 noon, then at 3:30pm and finally at the end of the polls.

First Published: Aug 23, 2018 23:50 IST