The people of Meghalaya are all set to vote for the assembly elections sealing the political fate of 369 candidates on Monday after intense campaigning by all the political parties.
The polls this year feature multiple players in the form of the ruling National People’s Party (NPP), the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress, with the ruling Trinamool Congress in West Bengal also entering the fray in the hope of cutting its electoral teeth into this Northeast state. The fates of the contesting parties will be decided by over 21 lakhs voters across 59 poll-bound constituencies on Monday.
According to the Election Commission, polling will be held in a total of 3,419 polling stations across the state. Voting will begin at 7 am and continue till 4 pm on Monday.
However, polling for the Sohiong Assembly constituency was postponed following the demise of former state Home Minister and United Democratic Party (UDP) candidate from the seat, HDR Lyngdoh.
In the now-dossiolved Meghala Assembly, the National People’s Party held the highest number of seats at 20, followed by the United Democratic Party at 8 seats. Moreover, BJP and the People’s Democratic Front held two seats each. However, as many as 20 seats remained vacant in the wake of multiple resignations by members of the Assembly.
Of the 60 Assembly constituencies in Meghalaya, 36 constituencies fall in Khasi, Jaintia Hills region while 24 are in the Garo Hills region.
Though Congress emerged as the single largest party, winning 21 of 60 seats in the 2018 Assembly polls, the National People’s Party (NPP), which won 20 seats, formed the government after forging post-poll alliances with regional parties and the BJP. The United Democratic Party (UDP) grabbed six seats.
While the ruling NPP is contesting 57 seats, the Trinamool Congress has fielded cabdidates in 56 seats. The United Democratic Party is contesting 46 seats.
The NPP, which went with the BJP in the last assembly elections, aims to secure a majority on its own steam and return to power for a second straight term.
On the other hand, The Trinamool Congress (TMC), which became the principal Opposition party in Meghalaya in 2021 following the defection of 12 Congress MLAs, has since emerged as an electoral player to contend with after former chief minister Mukul Sangma joined its ranks. The TMC fielded candidates in 58 seats, including the prized Shillong.
As the NPP looks to retain power and BJP and other parties hopes to play spoiler to their plans, here’s a look at the constitucies that are likely to pit the contesting players in a fierce battle in Monday’s polling.
The first on the list is South Tura where the battle is between Chief Minister Conrad Sangma and BJP’s Bernard N Marak. The Congress has fielded Brenzield Ch Marak in this seat.
The second on the list is West Shillong where BJP has fielded its state chief Ernest Mawrie, who is among the most prominent faces of the party in the state. Mohendro Rapsang is the candidate of the ruling NPP and is pitted against TMC’s Iwan Maria.
The seat becomes significant as the Congress’ state chief Vincent Pala is contesting for the first time from the Sutnga Saipung constituency. Pala’s performance in the elections could have a significant impact on the political landscape of Meghalaya.
Currently serving as the Member of Parliament from Shillong, he will be competing against the incumbent Sutnga Saipung MLA Shitlang Pale of UDP and NPP candidate Santa Mary Shylla and BJP’s Krison Langstang.
Songsak and Tikrikilla
These two constituencies have become prominent as the former chief minister and current Leader of the Opposition in Meghalaya, Mukul Sangma, is contesting these two seats on a TMC ticket.
In the 2018 elections, Sangma won from both the Ampati and Songsak constituencies as a Congress candidate.
However, he quit the Congress and joined the Trinamool Congress in 2021.
In Songsak, Sangma will be facing competition from NPP’s Nihim D Shira, INC’s Champion R Sangma and BJP’s Thomas N Marak.
In Tikrikilla, he will be competing against NPP’s MLA Jimmy D Sangma, Congress’ Dr Kapin Ch Boro, BJP’s Rahinath Barchung Rabha, and UDP’s Julius T Sangma.
There are over 21 lakh electorates (21,75,236) of which 10.99 lakh are women and 10.68 lakh are male voters. In Meghalaya, the woman voters number more than their male counterparts. There are about 81,000 first-time voters in the state.
As many as 369 candidates are in the fray of which 36 are women.