Shillong, May 27: The by-election to the Ampati Assembly constituency is slated for Monday. Significantly, former Chief Minister Mukul Sangma’s daughter is in the fray.
With the Congress and the National People’s Party (NPP) tied at 20 seats each in the Meghalaya Assembly, the by-poll to the Ampati seat is seen as a virtual tie-breaker.
While a win for the NPP would put the party which is currently holding the reign of power in the state in the driver’s seat, an extra legislator for the Congress would mean that it can push to stake claim to form the government.
The Congress has fielded Mukul Sangma’s daughter 27-year-old Miani Dalbot Shira, while NPP has fielded Clement G Momin. There is also a third player in the fray, Subhankar Koch an independent.
For the Congress, the campaign was led by Miani’s father Mukul Sangma and her legislator mother Dikkanchi D Shira. Other Congress legislator from Khasi Hills also chipped in.
For the NPP, apart from the Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma who led the campaign, the others were Manipur Deputy Chief Minister Joykumar Singh and other party members from Manipur and Nagaland.
The other Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) partners like the United Democratic Party, People’s Democratic Front and the Hill State People’s Democratic Party also campaigned for the NPP candidate.
During the highly surcharged campaign, both the Congress and the NPP traded charges against each other even as there were reports of sporadic clashes between members of the two parties and poll code violations.
The Congress filed a FIR against Home Minister James K Sangma and his sister and South Tura legislator Agatha K Sangma for allegedly violating the model code of conduct and misuse of official power by attempting to buy votes.
The NPP also filed a complaint against Mukul Sangma for poll code violation. The NPP in its complaint alleged that the opposition leader was campaigning even after the period was over at 4 pm on May 26.
Meanwhile, in the latest incident of assault during the run-up to the polls, three Congress workers were allegedly beaten up by a group of people in Bollongitok in the constituency in the early hours of Sunday.
While the NPP claimed the group was beaten up by the villagers for trying to influence them to vote, the Congress claimed the beating was a targeted one.
The incident occurred at about 12:30 am in the village with the three Congress workers receiving minor injuries from the altercation.
“They had dinner and were on their way when they were targeted by the workers of the NPP for being Congress workers. The villagers had nothing to do with the assault and it was all the handiwork of the NPP workers. The 3 were on their way to Mukdangra and were not campaigning at all nor were they distributing money,” MPYC president, Richard Marak said.
Earlier, on May 23, party workers of both the NPP and the Congress were involved in a scuffle. The fight erupted after Congress workers were stopping a group of NPP workers from campaigning in a village under Betasing which led to frayed tempers and eventually to a fight.
Ampati has altogether 39 polling stations and on Saturday, polling parties for the farthest 21 polling stations were deployed. Polling parties assigned to conduct the election in the remaining 18 polling stations moved out of Ampati on Sunday.
Out of 39 polling booths, six have been classified as ‘vulnerable’ due to various reasons including group clashes, inter-state border areas, elephant infestation and remoteness. While four companies of security force have been deployed in the constituency for election duty, a total of 156 polling officials were assigned to conduct the bye election in 39 polling stations.
Along with EVMs, 65 VVPATs would be used for the voting and five polling stations are under webcasting. There are altogether 28,699 voters which include 14,317 male and 14,382 female voters. Out of 28,699 voters, 28,571 are general electors (14,190 male and 14381 female) and 127 service electors (127 male, and 1 female).