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70.91 % turnout in M’laya assembly by-polls
Correspondent SHILLONG, AUG 18:
Published on 18 Aug. 2009 11:34 PM IST
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An estimated of the 70.91 per cent of the 14, 912 electorates exercised their franchise on Tuesday, even as polling was on peacefully for the Umroi Assembly by-elections in Meghalaya. Polling began at 0700 hours on a sluggish note in all 25 polling booths due to incessant rain. Two companies each of CRPF and state police battalion have been deployed to conduct the election smoothly. Chief Electoral Officer P Naik said that the polling was “incident-free” and voters turn-out is 70.91 per cent. Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) with Braille-code were used in all the polling booths in the constituency. As many as six candidates which includes Higher and Technical Education Minister M Ampareen Lyngdoh of Congress, Malcolm Tariang of United Democratic Party, Stephen Nongbet of Bharatiya Janata Party, besides two Independent candidates - Andrew Aibok Jyrwa and George Garry Nongkhlaw took part. The by-election was necessitated after Ms Lyngdoh quit from the state Assembly to join the Congress for the formation of the ruling Congress-led Meghalaya United Alliance (MUA) government. Lyngdoh who was elected on the UDP ticket in the 2008 Assembly election triggered a political crisis that led to the collapse of the NCP-UDP led Meghalaya Progressive Alliance (MPA) coalition government by resigning from the Assembly and the party. Indebted to Lyngdoh for helping the Congress to grab power, Chief Minister DD Lapang rewarded her with a cabinet berth and created a sort of history in inducting her even though she had ceased to be an elected member of the Assembly. However, the UDP and candidates in the fray were trying hard to defeat Lyngdoh in this unprecedented bye-election, which they termed the resignation of Ampareen as “betrayal of the trust of the people of Laitumkhrah Assembly constituency”. Tariang, her main political arch-rival is playing up the deserter card against Lyngdoh thereby forcing an “unnecessary election” on the electorates. “We are confident that the UDP candidate will retain its seat,” UDP leader John F Kharshiing said. However, Congress leaders, too, exuded confidence that Lyngdoh will retain her seat for the party. The result will be announced on August 21. The byelection is crucial for the Congress-led Meghalaya United Alliance (MUA) as its tally will increase to 27 from the present 26 in a 60-member House.

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