90.4% turnout for Ampati by-poll

Shillong, May 28: The by-election to the Ampati Assembly constituency in South-West Garo Hills district witnessed a 90.4 per cent voter turnout as people flocked polling stations on Monday to choose a new representative.
In the February 27 poll, the Ampati constituency recorded 90.7 per cent polling.

Amidst the heat, both natural and political, people were seen queuing lining up to choose their legislator.

Despite the pre-polling day heat and high-voltage campaigning, especially by the ruling National People’s Party (NPP) and the Congress, polling passed off peacefully.

In the run-up to the by-poll many FIRs and counter FIRs were filed by both the NPP and the Congress, the latter even alleging that Home Minister James K Sangma and his sister and South Tura legislator Agatha K Sangma violated the model code of conduct and misused official power by attempting to buy votes.

There were also rumours that Chief Minister Conrad Kongkal Sangma visited Ampati on Sunday night. A rumour that the CM, along with his convoy, entered the constituency on Sunday was also making rounds.

Meanwhile, when contacted, Meghalaya Chief Election Officer (CEO) FR Kharkongor has stated that till now they have not received any official complaint and were only informed about the CM’s visit through social media posts.

“I’ve heard such reports but we haven’t received any complaint in black and white,” Kharkongor said, adding he has directed the DO and RO to ascertain the veracity of the allegation.

“If the reports are verified, then a show cause notice will be issued to the NPP candidate,” he said.

Polling was conducted in all the 39 polling stations spread across the constituency from 7 am till 4 pm.

“The total percentage of voter turnout has been recorded at 90.4 per cent and there were no reports of any untoward incident,” Meghalaya’s Chief Electoral Officer Frederick Roy Kharkongor said.

He also said that in the run-up to the poll, five FIRs were lodged by the parties contesting the by-poll.

The CEO said that no defects were detected in EVMs and only one VVPAT at Rongramgre polling station was changed after it encountered a technical snag, which was subsequently replaced.

Kharkongor also said a lot of poll welfare measures, such as crèches for mothers with children, were created even as he added that due to the facilities provided by the State election department many people with disabilities also came out to exercise their franchise.

Three candidates who are in the fray for the by-election are Congress candidate Miani Dalbot Shira, eldest daughter of Dr Mukul Sangma, former Chief Minister and current Leader of Opposition, NPP’s candidate Clement G. Momin and Subhankar Koch, who has contested as an independent candidate.
Clement, the NPP candidate said that he was confident the people of Ampati would give the mandate in his favour.

“We’ve worked hard to create sensitization on core issues and agenda of our party. The Chief Minister himself has reached out to many areas and assured to create better infrastructure and development of Ampati. I’m sure people of the constituency will express their right with wisdom,” Momin said.

The by-election was necessitated after Dr Sangma decided to give up the Ampati seat which he had represented since 1993, as he was also elected as MLA of Songsak in East Garo Hills district in the Assembly elections held on February 27 this year.