Meghalaya to decide fate of 331 candidates on March 7

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Shillong, Mar 5 (UNI) The fate of 331 candidates, who contested for the 60-member Assembly seats in Meghalaya, will be decided when counting of 10,81,023 votes polled on March 3 will be taken up on March 7.

Election to the Baghmara seat in South Garo Hills was countermanded following the death of Congress MLA and candidate Sengran M Sangma.

Polling would be held there on March 22 while counting would be held on March 24.

The 331 candidates include 19 women and 73 Independents.

The Election Commission has made elaborate arrangements for counting of votes in the state.

About 1,899 polling personnel and 39 election observers have been assigned in 15 counting centres spread over seven district headquarters and six civil sub-divisions across the state, Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) P Naik told UNI here.

The counting process will start at 0800 hours. It is expected that by afternoon, results of all the 59 seats would be declared.

Of the total 12,14,010 electorate, the CEO said 10,81,023 votes were polled on March 3.

Rongchuggiri Assembly constituency in East Garo Hills recorded the highest number of vote with 95.32 per cent, while Laitumkhrah in East Khasi recorded the minimum number of votes with 76.22 per cent.

The main electoral battle is among three major political parties-- Congress, NCP and United Democratic Party (UDP). However, in the Garo hills, the tussle is mainly between the NCP and Congress, while in the Khasi Hills, comprising three districts of East and West Khasi Hills and Ri-Bhoi, the competition is between the UDP and Congress.

Important leaders, whose fate will be decided, are incumbent Chief Minister D D Lapang (Nongpoh seat) and his deputies--Dr Mukul M Sangma (Ampatigiri) and Dr Donkupar Roy (Shella), Assembly Speaker Martin M Danggo (Langrin) and his deputy PW Muktieh (Mawhati).

Five former Chief Ministers J D Rymbai (Jirang), Dr FA Khonglam (Sohra), EK Mawlong (Umroi) and SC Marak (Resubelpara) besides former Lok Sabha Speaker PA Sangma (Tura) were in the electoral battle.

During 1989-90, Mr Sangma won the Tura Assembly seat and became the Chief Minister, but his Government was toppled within a year.

The electoral fortunes of 331 candidates, including 19 women and 73 Independents UNI RRK MSJ MS DS1512

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