Shillong, Nov 21 (IANS) Balloting in the assembly by-election in Meghalaya’s Nongtsoin constituency passed off peacefully on Saturday, with 80 percent of the total 29,173 electorate casting their votes.
“The latest voter turnout recorded till 4.30 p.m. was 80 percent. We are expecting the turnout to touch more or less than 85 percent,” Chief Electoral Officer Prashant Naik told IANS over phone.
The by-election was necessitated following the death of Hill State People’s Democratic Party’s (HSPDP) Hoping Stone Lyngdoh in September. Lyngdoh had helmed the party with the “lion” symbol for several years.
Polling started at 8 a.m. and ended at 5 p.m. No untoward incident was reported despite apprehensions of violence in the constituency, the official said.
Men and women in large numbers queued up in front of the 39 polling stations well before voting began at 7 a.m., Naik said.
Fearing violence, the state election department deployed two companies of central forces to ensure smooth conduct of the by-election. The Border Security Force sealed the India-Bangladesh border along the South West Khasi Hills and West Khasi Hills district.
“There was no poll-related incident and the election was conducted in a free and fair manner,” Naik said.
The HSPDP, which fielded Diosstarness Jyndiang, a former aide of Hoping Stone Lyngdoh, is confident of retaining the Nongtsoin seat.
“We are definitely confident to retain the seat because of the mass people’s support,” HSPDP supremo Ardent Miller Basaiawmoit told IANS.
Nonetheless, the ruling Congress party, which fielded former Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council Deputy Chairman Gabriel Wahlang, too is confident of snatching away the Nongstoin assembly seat.
“We in the Congress are also confident to win the by-election from Nongstoin since the electorate wanted development,” District Council Affairs Minister Horju Donkupar Roy said.
But political observers say that the Congress party might suffer a setback due to the infighting within the party over the selection of its party candidate.
The infighting even witnessed the expulsion of Advsier Pariong, a former health and family welfare minister from the Congress for extending support to the HSPDP candidate.
The other two candidates in the by-poll include Mosklandar Marngar of the United Democratic Party and lone woman Independent candidate, Fenela Lyngdoh Nonglait.
The counting of votes will takes place on November 24.