By-election campaign trial heats up in Meghalaya

Correspondent SHILLONG, OCT 10 | Publish Date: 10/10/2019 12:03:31 PM IST

With just nine days to go for the Shella by-poll in Meghalaya, the campaign trail is heating up as candidates and party workers are wooing voters to elect their respective candidates.

Voting will be held on October 21 while the counting of votes will be on October 24.  Altogether, six contestants in the fray will fight to represent the prestigious seat, which had been represented by former Assembly Speaker and United Democratic Party (UDP), Dr. Donkupar Roy for seven consecutive times .

The by-election was necessitated following the demise of Roy on July 21.

 The UDP has fielded Balajiedkupar Synrem, son of Roy. The National People’s Party, which is leading the ruling Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) coalition government has extended its support to Synrem. The Hill State People’s Democratic Party (HSPDP), which is also part of the Conrad Sangma-led government has also extended its support to Synrem.  “We (NPP) are going all out to ensure that UDP retains the Shella seat as a mark of respect for the veteran UDP leader who was the chief architect of the MDA coalition,” NPP president, Dr. W.R.Kharlukhi said.

However, two MDA partners - the BJP and the People’s Democratic Front (PDF) - are also in the fray and fielded Joshua Warjri and Mosjo Rock F. Wanswett respectively.

“We are confident to retain the seat though our vote share may decrease as the BJP and PDF are also in the fray. But we are confident to win the by-election as we are also working towards that,” UDP Vice President Allantry Franklin Dkhar said. The opposition Congress has again fielded Batyngshaiñ Laitmon Ryngnga. Ryngnga who came third in the 2018 Meghalaya Assembly elections from Shella constituency is hopeful that he will win the by-poll. Grace Mary Kharpuri, who won the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC) election earlier this year on a Congress ticket from Nongshken constituency, quit from the primary membership of the grand old party to contest the by-poll. Kharpuri the lone woman candidate is confident to win the by-poll.

Komen Laitmon, a former HSPDP leader is also fighting the by- election as an Independent candidate.

Meanwhile, Chief Electoral Officer Frederick Roy Kharkongor said the election department is all prepared to conduct the bypoll. Kharkongor said one company of central armed police force will be deployed in the by-election bound Shella constituency.

Altogether, there are 29, 763 voters, including 14,954 women voters spread across 58 polling stations.

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