Updated: March 3, 2018 5:59:20 pm
Chief Minister Mukul Sangma has won in both Songsak and Ampati constituencies in Meghalaya. Sangma who has been the chief minister since 2010 was facing a dual threat from NPP and the BJP. The minister retained his Ampati seat, winning against BJP’s Bakul Ch Hajong by over 6000 votes. In Songsak constituency, the minister defeated National People’s Party (NPP) candidate Nihim D Shira with a margin exceeding 1300 votes. Sangma’s wife who was contesting election from Mahendraganj constituency was also victorious after she defeated BJP’s Premananda Koch by over 6,000 votes.
Meanwhile, PWD minister and Congress candidate Mazel Ampareen Lyngdoh has also won from East Shillong constituency. She defeated BJP’s Neil Antonio War by a margin exceeding 5,000 votes. However, state Home Minister and Congress candidate H Donkupar R Lyngdoh faced defeat, going down against Hill State People’s Democratic Party (HSPDP) contestant Samlin Malngiang, losing by 622 votes.
Contrary to the predictions of exit polls for Meghalaya, the Congress won 21 constituencies. The National People’s Party (NPP) which made a promising start has won 18 seats and is leading in 1 seat. While BJP has won 2 seats, regional parties have marked their presence by bagging 9 constituencies, as counting is still in process. An exit poll result by Axis MyIndia predicted BJP to reach the half-way mark in the 60-member house and Congress to be relegated to only 20 seats. Another exit poll predicted Conrad Sangma-led NPP to settle between 23 and 27 seats. Altogether 361 candidates are in the fray for 59 seats in the state, which has been ruled by the Congress for past ten years. The Congress has fielded 59 candidates.
Other key players are the United Democratic Party (UDP), Hill State People’s Democratic Party (HSPDP) and the Garo National Council (GNC). The trio had formed a pre-poll alliance and can play the kingmaker. The UDP is leading in six seats, while People’s Democratic Front (PDF) is leading in four, reported PTI.
Despite an aggressive campaign in Meghalaya, BJP is leading in two seats. Prominent leaders, including party president Amit Shah and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, led BJP’s campaign in the state, followed by regular rallies from Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Sharing a reputation of aligning with regional parties as they did in the Assam and Manipur elections in 2016 and 2017, BJP this time is contesting the elections alone. The saffron party has fielded 47 candidates in the 60 constituencies. Meanwhile, NPP, which is an ally of BJP at the centre and Manipur, is also fighting alone. The regional party has fielded 52 candidates.
In poll-related violence, one NCP candidate, Jonathone Nengminza Sangma from Williamnagar constituency in Meghalaya’s East Garo Hills district, was killed in an IED blast following which election in one of 60 seats was countermanded.
The polls in Meghalaya was held on February 27, which registered 75 per cent polling. The ruling Congress in its previous campaign in 2013 had booked 29 seats restricting BJP from opening their account in the state.
Counting of votes commenced in Meghalaya amid heavy security arrangements. The Chief Electoral Officer of Meghalaya, F R Kharkongor, said a three-tier security arrangement has been set up at the 13 counting centres and 11 companies of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) have also been deployed for the counting process.
A party needs at least 31 seats to get a clear majority of total 60 seats.
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