Shillong, Feb 26: More than 200 youths with professional backgrounds have joined the fray to contest the March 3 Assembly polls in Meghalaya.
Most of the candidates are student leaders, medical practitioners, bureaucrats, businessmen and journalists, who had been nominated by political parties or trying their fortune as Independents with a mission to bring an overall change in the state.
Two former Garo Students' Union presidents -- Andreas T Sangma (IND) and Purno K Sangma (NCP)-- pitted against each other in Rongram constituency. Paul Lyngdoh, former Khasi Students' Union leader-turned-Khun Hynniewtrep National Awakening Movement (KHNAM) leader, was seeking re-polls from Jawai constituency. Joining him is Glenbert khongwir, another KSU leader, from Mawkhar seat on KHNAM against sitting Congress MLA Friday Lyngdoh.
Another youth leader, Jemino Mawthoh (NCP) is pitted against sitting Congress MLA Tony Curtis Lyngdoh and Bindo M Lanong of United Democratic Party (UDP) from Malki-Nongthynmai seat.
Militant leader of the outlawed A'chik National Volunteers' Council, Ashashel D Shira, who joined the national mainstream few years ago, is pitted against sitting Congress MLA Sayeedullah Nongrum from Rajabala seat.
Arlene N Sangma, former Deputy Commissioner of South Garo Hills district before her superannuation, joined UDP and pitted against Masonsing Sangma (NCP) in Chokpot.
Kennedy C Khyriem after resigning from police department, is contesting as Congress candidate from Nongspung seat against John Antonius Lyngdoh of UDP.
Among the businessmen-turned-politicians, Nehlang Lyngdoh and Charles Pyngrope seeking re-election for second time from Rymbai and Sohryngkham constituency respectively. Both are ministers in the incumbent government.
Metbah Lyngdoh, who exuded confidence to win the coming polls, from Mairang seat is a proprietor of Rani Motors, the first agency that deals in Maruti cars in the state. Conrad and James K Sangma, sons of NCP leader Purno A Sangma, run a call centre in the city, and are also in the fray.
Besides, six former Chief Ministers - D D Lapang, J D Rymbai, Dr F A Khonglam, E K Mawlong, Salseng C Marak and P A Sangma - are fighting the polls, where more than 12.30 lakh voters would exercise their franchise in 60 constituencies to decide the fate of 331 candidates.
The Congress was contesting all 60 seats in the state, while the United Democratic Party (UDP) came a close second with 52 candidates and Nationalist Congress Party with 50 candidates.
The current term of the Meghalaya Assembly ends on March 10.