The stage is set for the Meghalaya by-elections to the three Assembly constituencies tomorrow as preparations have been made for smooth conduct of the polls.
Altogether 1, 02,695 voters, including 53,106 women, will decide the fate of 13 candidates. Polling will be held from 7 am to 6 pm at 638 polling booths in the three assembly constituencies and counting of votes will take place on November 2.
According to the latest voters’ list, Mawryngkneng has 60 polling stations and a total of 36,751 voters, which include 18,986 female voters and 17,765 male voters.
In Mawphlang, there are 50 polling booths with a total of 33,194 voters – 17,475 female and 15,719 male voters.
Rajabala has 58 polling booths and a total of 32,750 voters. There are 16,645 female and 16,105 male voters there.
“All preparations have been made for the smooth conduct of the polls. Moreover, we would ensure that voters exercise COVID appropriate behaviour during the polling,” Chief Electoral Officer, Frederick Roy Kharkongor, said.
As per the COVID protocol, one health worker would be present in each of the polling stations and sanitizers and disposable gloves would be made available for the voters, he informed.
“There are 47 vulnerable polling stations out of this total and the rest normal. Around 672 polling officials would be deployed in these polling stations,” he further informed.
The by-elections in the three seats were necessitated following the deaths of the sitting MLAs – David A Nongrum (Congress) of Mawryngkneng, Dr Azad Zaman (Congress) of Rajabala both Congress and SK Sun of Mawphlang (independent but later an ‘associate member’ of the UDP).
In Mawryngkneng, the Congress is fielding Highlander Kharmalki. Others in the fray are Pyniaid Sing Syiem of the NPP, and three independents, Esron Marwein, Norbert Marboh and Arbiangkam Kharsohmat.
In Mawphlang there are three candidates – ex-star footballer Eugeneson Lyngdoh of the UDP, former MLA Kennedy Cornelius Khyriem of the Congress and KHADC MDC Lamphrang Blah from the NPP.
In the fray for the Rajabala by-poll will be five candidates – Hasina Yasmin Mondal (Congress), Ashahel D Shira (UDP), Abdus Saleh (NPP), Kingstone B Marak (BJP) and Carla Sangma (independent). They will be vying for votes in what has been a very interesting poll campaign.
The Election Commission of India has introduced postal voting (Form 12D) in view of the difficulty in getting them to the polling stations and the possibility of the spread of COVID-19.
Kharkongor said, 300 voters, mostly senior citizens have registered themselves for postal voting to exercise their franchise in the Assembly bye-elections.
At least four companies of paramilitary forces are assisting the state police for the smooth conduct of the polls. Except for a minor scuffle in Rajabala, campaigning has been held peacefully in all the constituencies.
“Some of these paramilitary forces and state police would conduct area domination especially in the vulnerable polling stations,” Kharkongor added.