About 7.5 per cent votes were cast in the first two hours in the by-elections to two Assembly constituencies in Meghalaya today amid tight security, Chief Election Officer F R Kharkongor said. The voter turnout till 9 am was less than 5 per cent in Ranikor seat, while in South Tura constituency it was a little over 10 per cent, the official said.
The CEO said the voting would pick up by afternoon till the end at 5 pm. The voting began at 7 am. The largest polling station is Matchakolgre in South Tura constituency with 1,337 voters and the smallest is Leper Colony with 151 voters.
In Ranikor constituency, Rangthong with 817 voters is the largest booth, while Nongbahjynrin-Mawthabah with only 12 voters is the smallest one, Kharkongor said.
The bye-elections to the two seats were necessitated following the resignations of former Assembly Speaker and
five-time Congress MLA Martin M Danggo, who joined the ruling National People’s Party (NPP), and South Tura MLA Agatha K Sangma.
Danggo resigned on June 21, while Sangma quit on July 2. In South Tura constituency in West Gao Hills district, Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma, who is currently a Member of Parliament from Tura, is contesting to become a member of the state Assembly.
Son of former Lok Sabha Speaker and chief minister Purno Sangma, he became the chief minister on March 6 this year with the support of regional parties and the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP). He is pitted against the Congress candidate Charlotte W Momin and Independents–John Leslee K Sangma and Chris Kabul A Sangma.
In Ranikor seat in South West Khasi Hills district, NPP’s Martin M Danggo will face United Democratic Party (UDP) candidate Pius Marwein, People’s Democratic Front (PDF) chairman P N Syiem and Congress candidate Jackiush Sangma.
Security has been tightened for the by-polls with deployment of four companies of the Central Armed Police Force each in both the constituencies, an election official said. The Border Security Force (BSF) has been asked to keep extra vigil as Ranikor constituency borders Bangladesh, he said.