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A costly by-poll in time of demonetisation

Divided Congress can claim credit for ‘early election’

SHILLONG: It was a costly by-poll to the seven district council constituencies for the State Government and the 33 contesting candidates post demonetisation.
The initial estimate for conducting the council by-polls for just seven seats was a whopping Rs 2.15 crore while the candidates – as many as 33 – had also spent according to their capabilities during the by-polls.
While the announcement of by-polls was made before the demonetisation move, there was no rethink on the part of the State Government regarding the expenditure to be involved for the polls.
The ceiling of expenditure put forward by the District Council Affairs department for each candidate was Rs 2.50 lakh and they have to submit their accounts within six months.
However, in reality, the expenditure of candidates will be more than what is prescribed by the department concerned.
Sources said on Saturday that the by-polls could have been avoided if the state government had proposed the dual posts Bill with effect from 2019 when the next general election will be held for the councils.
According to sources, it is an open secret that it was the tussle between Chief Minister Mukul Sangma and KHADC chief P.N Syiem, who are from the same party, which resulted in the former prompting the cabinet to take a decision on clearing the dual posts Bill.
Even after the by-polls, the dual posts Act is still questionable since the KHADC CEM, who did not resign as MDC, is still holding both the posts, sources added.
The State Government could have avoided the additional expenditure running into crores of rupees for holding the by-elections if there was proper understanding within the Congress functionaries.
The by-polls fought after the government brought the dual posts Act did not benefit the Congress much as veteran Congress Minister HDR Lyngdoh, who was holding the portfolio of District Council Affairs department during the implementation of the dual posts Act, could not ensure the victory of his son.
In fact, Lyngdoh was the first one to resign from the post of MDC after the dual posts Act was approved by the Cabinet followed by the passing of the related Bill by the Assembly amid criticism.

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