The Meghalaya cabinet decided today that the elections to the Garo Hills Autonomous District Council (GHADC) will be held on April 9, with counting of the votes scheduled for April 14.
Polls will open at 7 am and close at 4 pm.
The term of the previous GHADC ended on October 18. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the elections were delayed by the government, which instead imposed Administrator’s Rule in the council.
Briefing reporters today, Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong said that the District Council Affairs Department had consulted the Health Department before deciding on the date of the elections.
The Deputy CM also informed that the state government has estimated that the polls, which will be held while adhering to Covid-19 standard operating procedures set by the Health Department, will cost Rs 15 crore to stage.
The government will pay for the cost but deduct the amount from the GHADC’s share of royalties.
When asked if his National People’s Party (NPP) will win the election, Tynsong said that the party is confident about crossing the “magic number”, i.e. 16, which will give it a majority in the GHADC.
On the widespread allegations that there has been massive corruption in the council, the Deputy Chief Minister said, “It is not necessarily during our term, not necessarily during the MDA government. That is why in the enquiry (by the Director of Local Fund Audit) which we have constituted we have let them go deep. We told them to go back 10 years before till now to examine the entire alleged misappropriation of funds of the district council.”
Publication of the draft electoral roll will be on February 4, with the last date for filing of claims and objections set for February 18. Disposal of claims and objections will be done on March 1, with the publication of the final electoral roll on March 6. The last date for filing nominations will be March 15, with scrutiny of nomination papers the same day. Nomination papers can be withdrawn until March 19, while the date of finalization and publication of valid nominations and allocation of electoral symbols will be on March 22.