Peaceful Meghalaya poll records 70 percent turnout

March 3rd, 2008 - 8:59 pm ICT by admin  

(Roundup)

Shillong, March 3 (IANS) More than 70 percent polling was recorded Monday for elections to the 60-member assembly in the northeastern state of Meghalaya, officials said. “Voting passed off almost peacefully and according to preliminary reports, the voting percentage may go up as we are still getting inputs from remote areas,” an election official said.

People attired in their traditional tribal costumes were seen queuing up to cast their vote. Voting opened at 7 a.m. and ended at 4 p.m.

Those who cast their ballot included former speaker of Lok Sabha Purno Agitok Sangma in Tura in the West Garo Hills district of Meghalaya.

Sangma, a candidate for the Nationalist Socialist Council, is contesting the assembly elections from Tura after announcing his retirement from national politics. His two sons are also contesting the elections as NCP candidates.

A total of 331 candidates representing 13 political parties and 73 independent candidates are in the fray in the single-phase polling in the hill state for the eighth Meghalaya state assembly. The polling in one constituency has been postponed following the death of a candidate.

Over 1.2 million people were eligible to cast their ballots. The votes will be counted May 7.

The vote would determine the fate of six former chief ministers - D.D. Lapang, Purno A. Sangma, Salseng C. Marak, E.K. Mawlong, F.A. Khonglam and J.D. Rymbai.

The ruling Congress party, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the United Democratic Party (UDP) have emerged as the three main contenders to form the next government in Christian majority Meghalaya.

While the Congress is contesting all the 60 seats, the UDP has put up candidates in 52 seats and the NCP in 50.

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