People defy boycott call by militant outfit in Khasi-Jaintia Hills

Over 85 per cent polling was recorded on Saturday in Meghalaya, which went to the polls to elect a new 60-member Assembly. People turned out in large numbers at polling booths since morning, defying the boycott and bandh call by militant outfit Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC).

The HNLC had called a 36-hour bandh beginning on Friday and urged the people to boycott the elections in Khasi and Jaintia Hills. However, in Garo Hills no boycott call was given by any militant outfit. The Achik National Volunteer Council (B), the breakaway faction of the ANVC, currently engaged in peace negotiations with the Centre and the State Government urged the people, particularly the youth to come out in large numbers and vote for change.

Apart from the two ANVC factions, the militant Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) is also active in Garo Hills districts.

Chief Electoral Officer, Meghalaya, Prashant Kumar Naik told The Hindu that the poll percentage might go up as voters were lining up in some booths till late in the evening.

The CEO said the elections passed off peacefully and no untoward incident was reported from anywhere. In some booths malfunctioning EVMs had to be replaced.

Altogether 345 candidates, including 25 women, are in the fray. Prominent among them are Chief Minister Mukul Sangma and his wife Dikkanchi D. Shira, two Deputy Chief Ministers H.D.R. Lyngdoh (Congress) and Bindo M. Lanong (United Democratic Party), three former Chief Ministers — Donkupar Roy (UDP), and D.D. Lapang and Salseng C. Marak, both from Congress, — Leader of Opposition Conrad K. Sangma from the National People’s Party (NPP) and Paul Lyngdoh (UDP). The Congress contested all the 60 seats, the UDP 50 and the NPP 32.