55 per cent polling registered in Tura Parliamentary bypoll

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Shillong, Mar 22 (UNI) An estimated of 55 per cent of the 4,82,512 electorate today exercised their franchise in the byelection to Tura Parliamentary seat in Meghalaya.

Deputy Commissioner of West Garo Hills District EP Kharbhih, who is also the District Election Officer, told UNI that the polling was ''incident-free'' and the turnout was expected to cross over 60 per cent.

Polling began at 0700 hrs on a dull note at all 595 polling booths amidst heavy security.

As many as eight companies of central paramilitary forces, including the CRPF and the BSF, had been deployed to assist the state police to conduct the election smoothly.

Electronic Voting Machines were used at all the polling booths in the constituency.

The byelection was necessitated with former Lok Sabha Speaker Purno A Sangma quitting the seat after being elected to the 60-member Meghalaya Legislative Assembly on March eight.

His daughter Agatha K Sangma was contesting the seat on an NCP ticket and is pitching against senior Congress leader Dr Mukul M Sangma's brother Zenith.

Mr Zenith lost the March three Assembly election to NCP candidate Adolf Lu Hitler R Marak.

The other two candidates in the fray were Boston Marak and John Leslee Sangma, both Independents.

The ruling Meghalaya Progressive Alliance (MPA), a combine of the United Democratic Party and Nationalist Congress Party, also claimed to retain the Parliamentary seat away from the Congress.

'' We are confident that the NCP candidate will retain its seat,'' Finance Minister and NCP spokesman Conrad A Sangma said.

Former Lok Sabha Speaker P A Sangma had represented the Tura Parliamentary constituencies for nine consecutive terms.

UNI RRK SJC/src AKJ GC1750

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