Shillong, Mar 3: Polling for the single-phase of Meghalaya Assembly elections began today amidst tight security. The polling will continue till 4:00 p.m. Around 12,32,907 voters are expected to exercise their franchise during the elections. Altogether 331 candidates, including six former chief ministers, are in fray for the elections to the eighth Meghalaya Assembly. Six former Chief Ministers are D D Lapang, Purno A Sangma, Salseng C Marak, E K Mawlong, F A Khonglam and J D Rymbai.
The Congress is battling the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), two major constituents of its Union coalition. All Ministers except R G Lyngdoh, who holds the education portfolio in the Congress-led Lapang government, are seeking re-election. The Congress is contesting all 60 seats in the state, while the United Democratic Party (UDP) has fielded its candidate on 52 constituencies and the NCP is contesting 50 seats.
The Election Commission has postponed the polling in Baghmara constituency after sitting Congress candidate S Sangma died of cancer. The election in the constituency has been re-scheduled for March 22. Out of 1600 polling stations in the state, 635 have been declared hyper-sensitive and 194 as sensitive.
Adequate security personnel have been deployed to ensure free and fair elections. Forty companies of paramilitary forces, including BSF, have been deployed to ensure free and fair polling. Security has been beefed up along international and inter-state borders to prevent entry of anti-social elements. The eighth Meghalaya Legislative Assembly will be constituted by March 10.