Counting of votes begins for Meghalaya Assembly election

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Shillong, Mar 7 (UNI) Counting of votes for the 60-member Meghalaya Assembly, elections for which were held on March 3, began at 0800 hrs here this morning.

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 will be held on March 24.

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

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

Meghalaya has set an all-time record with 89.05 per cent of over 1.2 million voters exercising their franchise to elect 59 new legislators to the Assembly.

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

The 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 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 the 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 the Congress.

Important leaders, whose fate will be decided, are incumbent Chief Minister D D Lapang (Nongpoh), Speaker Martin M Danggo (Langrin) and five former Chief Ministers - J D Rymbai (Jirang), Dr F A Khonglam (Sohra), E K Mawlong (Umroi) and S C Marak (Resubelpara) besides former Lok Sabha Speaker P A Sangma (Tura).

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 will be decided today.

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