Shillong: The by-elections to the three Meghalaya assembly constituencies of Mawryngkneng, Mawphlang and Rajabala on Saturday concluded on a peaceful note with high turnout of voters.
Briefing the media, Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Frederick Kharkongor said the total poll percentage till 5 pm stood at 80.86%, which is expected to go up since the election department is awaiting reports from close to 20 polling stations.
Till 5 pm, Mawryngkneng constituency reported 75.06% voter turnout, 76.90% at Mawphlang and 90.63% at Rajabala, the CEO said.
Kharkongor said the by-polls was conducted smoothly and there was no report of any untoward incidents.
“We saw good and enthusiastic participation from both senior, middle-aged and first-time voters. The first-time voters also received a certificate,” said Kharkongor.
He added that COVID-19 arrangements were in place and people had adhered to the protocols with Nodal Officers on vigil.
According to the CEO, there was a negligible malfunction of the machines and only 6 VVPATS had to be changed – three in East Khasi Hills District ( One in Mawryngkneng and two in Mawphlang) and three in Rajabala.
He added that M3 variety of EVMs were used this time. A total of 168 PS that went into polls today with an electorate of 1,02,695.
The CEO informed that at Lad Mawreng, one of the polling stations of Mawphlang constituency, the polling was still going till the time of filing this report. Large crowds were seen waiting to exercise their franchise after a machine malfunction and the Deputy Commissioner is ensuring all measures are taken for a smooth process.
All eyes are now on the counting of votes on November 2; the counting is expected to begin at 8 am at three counting centres – one at Tura and two at JN Stadium in Shillong.
According to CEO Kharkongor, due to Covid-19, there will be 7 table per round and there will be three layers of security for the EVMs – it will be guarded by CAPF, CRPF and state police.
He added that during the counting of votes, 5 VVPATS will be randomly selected to match the votes cast. Other arrangements are also being made for frisking and checking during the day of counting and the winning candidates will also be provided an escort from the counting centres till their residences.
When asked about the strong security in the constituencies in East Khasi Hills District, Kharkongor said a review meeting was held with the SP and DC and, accordingly, detailing was done. “We always take cognizance of whenever there are apprehensions. After a review with SPs and DCs it was informed all law and order situation would be tightened,” informed Kharkongor.
Meanwhile, during the early hours of the polling day, Congress candidate from Mawryngkneng constituency Highlander Kharmalki cast his vote at 8 am and was also seen interacting with the voters as they were in queue waiting to cast their votes.
“I am confident of winning and defeating NPP candidate Pyniaid Syiem. I have worked hard and believe my people will trust me,” said Kharmalki. He also added that at Sohryngkham polling station where he had cast his vote, there was substantial turnout of voters early morning since most of them prefer to go back to work.
Similarly around 12 noon, NPP candidate Pyniaid Syiem cast his vote at Tynring polling station. Walking with confidence, Syiem expressed optimism that he will pass this test with flying colours. He did acknowledge that his opponent Kharmalki gave him a tough fight along with other three Independent candidates.
“Allegations may have been levelled but these are phenomenon during elections. We have tried our best to visit all villages and made people understand our agenda and our commitment to the people,” said Syiem.
He further emphasised that their main agenda, if the NPP is elected in Mawryngkneng, is providing basic necessity.
With just a few days left before the counting takes place, all the candidates are confident that the voters of the respective Constituencies will repose their faith in them.
It maybe mentioned that 13 candidates are in the fray for the by-polls in the three constituencies. In Mawryngkneng, NPP’s Pyniaid Syiem, Congress’ Highlander Kharmalki, Independent- Esron Marweiñ, Arbiangkam Kharsohmat and Norbert Marboh are trying their luck.
In Mawphlang constituency, the candidates are Congress’ Kennedy Khyriem, NPP’s Lamphrang Blah and UDP’s Eugene Lyngdoh.
In Rajabala constituency, Congress’s Hasina Yasmin Mondal, NPP’s Abdul Saleh, UDP’s Ashahel D Shira, BJP’s Kingston B Marak, and Independent Carla M Sangma are pitted against each other.
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