Assembly polls: 64% voter turnout in Meghalaya by 3pm, 73% in Nagaland
Polling for the Meghalaya and Nagaland assembly elections began at 7 am on Monday (February 27) and continued till 4 pm. While Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged voters in the two north-eastern states to cast their votes in record numbers, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge appealed to them to give change a chance.
While the voter turnout in Meghalaya was 63.91% by 3 pm, it was 72.99% in Nagaland in that time.
In both states, the BJP is part of the ruling alliance in the outgoing government, with the National People’s Party (NPP) in Meghalaya and the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) in Nagaland. While the alliance has broken up in Meghalaya and all parties have fielded candidates independently, the NDPP and BJP are contesting the Nagaland polls on a 40:20 seat-sharing basis.
369 candidates in the fray in Meghalaya
In Meghalaya, 21.6 lakh voters were eligible to seal the electoral fate of 369 candidates. While NPP is fighting to retain power, the BJP is looking to make a mark on its own, while the Trinamool Congress (TMC), which is currently the main opposition in the state, is hoping for a change, just like Congress.
Voting took place at 3,419 polling stations, of which 640 were categorised as vulnerable and 323 as critical, Meghalaya Chief Electoral Officer FR Kharkongor said. Of the 369 candidates, 36 were women, with the largest number of 10 women candidates being fielded by the Congress.
According to the Election Commission, the highest voter turnout was recorded in eastern West Khasi Hills at 36.96%.
Polling in Sohiong assembly constituency was adjourned due to the death of one of the candidates. Over 19,000 polling personnel and 119 companies of CAPF were deployed in the polling stations. They were backed by state policemen to maintain law and order, the CEO said.
Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma is contesting from South Tura constituency where he has locked horns with militant-turned politician Bernard Marak of the BJP. Leader of Opposition and TMC leader Mukul Sangma is contesting from two seats Songsak and Tikrikilla. His wife DD Shira is also in the fray.
The Congress and the BJP are contesting 59 seats, while the NPP has put up nominees in 56 constituencies, the TMC in 57 and the UDP in 46.
BJP wins seat uncontested in Nagaland
In Nagaland, over 13 lakh electors were set to decide the electoral fate of 183 candidates. In Nagaland, too, the nominees contested in 59 out of 60 seats, as the Akuluto seat in Zunheboto district was won uncontested by BJP nominee and sitting MLA Kazheto Kinimi.
The NDPP-BJP combine is seeking a mandate for the second term, with Neiphiu Rio as the chief ministerial candidate of the alliance. The Congress, which ruled the state till 2003 and does not have any member in the current House, has fielded 23 aspirants.
The NPF, which won 26 seats in the last assembly polls, fielded candidates in 22 seats, but one of them withdrew, leaving 21 in the fray. A total of 19 nominees will contest as Independents.
The electors include 6,47,523 male and 6,49,876 female voters, who are eligible to exercise their franchise in 2,291 polling stations.
Modi, Kharge’s appeal
PM Modi tweeted early in the day: “Urging the people of Meghalaya and Nagaland, particularly the young and first time voters, to vote in record numbers today.”
Kharge, too, took to the microblogging site to appeal to voters to give change a chance. “People of Meghalaya and Nagaland are looking towards progressive, welfare-oriented governments. Welcome our first-time voters to participate in this democratic process for a better future. Urge our sisters and brothers of Meghalaya and Nagaland to give change a chance,” he tweeted.
The counting of votes in the two states besides Tripura is scheduled on March 2.
(With agency inputs)