As candidates wait with bated breath for the results of the October 30 by-elections in three seats of the State, the poll outcome could offer an edge either to the ruling Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) or the opposition Congress.
With an overall turnout of 83.67 per cent in the by-polls, the results on November 2 hold significance for both MDA and Congress ahead of the State elections in early 2023.
It may be noted that Mawryngkneng registered a turnout of 78.06 per cent while Mawphlang recorded 82.34 per cent. The biggest turnout was in Rajabala where the turnout was 90.63 per cent.
The by-elections from Mawryngkneng, Mawphlang and Rajabala were the acid test for both the ruling NPP and its allies UDP and BJP as well as the opposition Congress.
There is indeed an air of anti-incumbency against the NPP-led MDA government in the State. Only the by-poll results would make clear how much the main opposition Congress capitalises on the anti-incumbency factor.
If Congress wins all the three seats, it will increase its strength in the Assembly to 20. Mawryngkneng and Rajabala are the seats won by the party in 2018.
But some observers predicted that NPP, UDP and Congress may win one seat each.
The NPP and the Congress have fielded candidates in all the three seats, while another MDA partner, the UDP also fielded its candidate in Mawphlang, causing possible division of votes among the ruling partners and some benefit to the Congress.
The BJP, which is a constituent of the MDA, fielded a candidate in Rajabala.
In Mawryngkneng, the candidates are Highlander Kharmalki (Congress), Pyniaid Sing Syiem (NPP) and three independents – Norbert Myrboh, Esron Marwein and Arbiangkam Kharsohmat.
While the UDP is supporting the NPP candidate in Mawryngkneng, KHNAM which is also an ally of MDA is backing independent candidate Esron Marwein.
Mawphlang is witnessing a triangular contest. Former MLA Kennedy C. Khyriem (Congress), sitting MDC Lamphrang Blah (NPP) and former soccer star Eugeneson Lyngdoh (UDP) are in the fray from the seat.
Observers said that the decision of the two MDA allies – NPP and UDP – to contest against each other in Mawphlang may cause division of votes among the ruling partners although it is unclear if this would offer electoral benefit to the opposition Congress.
The candidates for the Rajabala seat are Hasina Yasmin Mondal (Congress), Abdus Saleh (NPP), Ashahel Shira (UDP), Kingston B. Marak (BJP) and Carla Sangma (Independent).
Here too, the presence of three candidates from the ruling alliance (NPP, UDP and BJP) may lead to division of votes.
The by-polls were necessitated following the deaths of three sitting MLAs – David A. Nongrum (Congress, Mawryngkneng), Azad Zaman (UDP, Rajabala) and Syntar Klas Sunn (Independent, Mawphlang).