Meghalaya registers 70% turnout
Over 70 per cent people cast their votes in Meghalaya, where elections to the 60-member House on Monday was peaceful barring clashes in chief minister DD Lapang's constituency. The night before the start of polling, though, was violent with clashes between supporters of the Congress and NCP claiming one life in West Garo Hills district.
"The figure is likely to go up as reports from some remote areas are yet to come in," said Meghalaya chief electoral officer P Naik, adding polling was conducted under 39 observers and 40 additional companies of paramilitary forces.
Officials said, voting was more brisk in the non-tribal areas of the Khasi and Garo Hills while the momentum in the tribal areas picked up later in the day. Sporadic violence, though, was a blot on the "festive atmosphere" throughout the day.
While a Congress supporter died prior to the start of polling in Selsella constituency of West Garo Hills district following a Congress-NCP fight, a dozen workers of the regional United Democratic Party were injured after clashing with Congress supporters at Nongpoh in Ri-Bhoi district. Nongpoh is chief minister Lapang's pet seat.
Lapang, meanwhile, hinted at a hung Assembly by saying the Congress was not averse to a tie-up with NCP. The two parties are at loggerheads in Meghalaya despite being allies at the Centre.
"Nothing is impossible in politics," Lapang told reporters at Nongpoh, situated halfway between Guwahati and the Meghalaya capital Shillong. "If the situation so demands, the possibility of an alliance with the NCP is not ruled out."
Purno A Sangma's NCP, notably, had almost succeeded in toppling the Congress-led Meghalaya Democratic Alliance government that saw the High Command replacing Lapang with JD Rymbai, only to be reinstated. Dissidence within the Congress had irked its regional allies, forcing them to reject pre-poll alliance.
The election results are scheduled on March 7, two days after polling in Nagaland. Elections in Tripura were held on February 23.