Nongstoin records over 80 pc turnout

Young voters show their EPICs before casting their votes in one of the polling booths under Nongstoin constituency in Nongstoin on Saturday. (ST)

NONGSTOIN/SHILLONG:  Balloting in the assembly by-election in Nongtsoin constituency passed off peacefully on Saturday with over 80 per cent voters’ turn out.
Polling began at 7 am on a sluggish note in all the 39 polling booths amidst heavy security. By afternoon, the voters came out in large numbers to elect their new leader.
“An estimated 81.96 per cent  of the electorate exercised their franchise  and we expect the turnout to cross 82 per cent mark as the presiding officers from the remote polling booths are yet to submit the details of the election,” an election official said. The percentage of male and female voters was 79.50% and 84.16% respectively.
The by-election was necessitated following the death of Hill State People’s Democratic Party’s (HSPDP) Hoping Stone Lyngdoh in September. Lyngdoh had helmed the party with the “lion” symbol for several years.
No untoward incident was reported from any part of  the constituency.
Fearing violence, the state election department deployed two companies of Central forces to ensure smooth conduct of the by-election.
The Border Security Force sealed the India-Bangladesh border along the South West Khasi Hills and West Khasi Hills district.
Several polling stations have registered very high turnout of voters especially in the evening hours since most of the voters were busy engaging in agricultural activities during the day as it was a harvesting period, the official said.
Several polling stations recorded turnout between 85 to 90 percent.
The candidates in the fray include Gabriel Wahlang (Congress),  Mosklandar Marngar (UDP)Diosstarness Jyndiang (HSPSP), and  Fenela Lyngdoh Nonglait ( Independent) .
The result of the by-election, which will be declared on November 24, will be crucial for the ruling Congress, which is eyeing a win for Wahlang to tough all important 31-MLA mark in the 60-member State Legislative Assembly.
Nonetheless, the ruling Congress party, which fielded former Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council Deputy Chairman, too is confident of snatching away the Nongstoin assembly seat.
“We in the Congress are also confident to win the by-election from Nongstoin since the electorate wanted development,”  a senior Congress leader said.
But political observers say that the Congress party might suffer a setback due to the infighting within the party over the selection of its party candidate.
The infighting even witnessed the expulsion of Advsier Pariong, a former health and family welfare minister from the Congress for extending support to the HSPDP candidate. (With inputs from agencies)