Meghalaya registers all time high of 89.05 per cent turnout

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Shillong, Mar 4 (UNI) Meghalaya set an all-time record with 89.05 per cent of over 1.2 million voters exercising their franchise in yesterday's election to the 60-member Meghalaya Assembly.

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

Election would be held there on March 22.

Voters, mainly women, were seen waiting for their turn till 2030 hours last night in some polling booths in East Khasi Hills district.

The highest turnout recorded earlier in the state was in 1993 with 78.16 per cent, while the lowest was in 1972 with 51.65 per cent.

State Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) P Naik told reporters that the credit for such a huge percentage went to the electors and their increasing awareness.

'' The people took active participation in this election after the introduction of Photo Identity Card in the state, '' he said.

Mr Naik stated that the introduction of EPIC had rejuvenated the voters, besides the security arrangements.

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

Raliang Assembly constituency in Jaintia Hills recorded the highest number of vote with 95.09 per cent, while Laitumkhrah in East Khasi recorded the minimum number of votes with 76.22 per cent.

Of the 60 constituencies, 36 were in the Khasi Jaintia Hills region and 24 in Garo Hills region.

Chief Minister D D Lapang said the huge turnout was possible because the people of the state were becoming more politically conscious or either people wanted a change.

'' There are places, where the electorate wanted to replace an old MLA with a new one because of his non-performance or the other way round, '' Mr Lapang asserted.

However, former Lok Sabha Speaker P A Sangma said the highest turnout was because people had wanted a change in the state.

'' It's a positive change. People are determined and they have came all out to vote for a good cause and governance in the state, '' Mr Sangma opined.

The main electoral battle is among the 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.

Incumbent Chief Minister D D Lapang and five former Chief Ministers - J D Rymbai, Dr F A Khonglam, E K Mawlong, S C Marak and former Lok Sabha Speaker and NCP's Chief Ministerial candidate P A Sangma - cast their ballots in their respective constituencies.

The electoral fortunes of 331 candidates, including 19 women and 73 Independents, will be declared on March seven.


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