Stage set for Council by-poll

Fate of 33 candidates to be decided today

SHILLONG: The stage is set and the battle lines are drawn for the by-polls on Tuesday to fill the seven vacant seats of the KHADC and the JHADC. Polling will start from 7 am and end at 4 pm.
The 33 candidates have done their bit to woo the electorate and now the show time has finally come where voters will play the game changers. The campaigning for Tuesday’s by-election ended at 4pm on Sunday.
During the lacklustre campaign, political parties had highlighted the need for empowering traditional institutions and criticised the government’s move to expand the jurisdiction of MUDA to rural areas.
Over 1,000 polling personnel and almost an equal number of security personnel have already reached their respective polling stations on the eve of the by-poll, which was necessitated after seven MLAs resigned from the post of MDCs last year following the passing of the Prevention of Disqualification (Members of Legislative Assembly of Meghalaya) (Amendment) Act, 2015, which sought to end holding of dual posts by the MLAs.
There will be 232 polling stations for the KHADC by-election and 18 for the JHADC. Altogether 1,46,544 voters for the KHADC and 6,739 for the JHADC will decide the fate of the candidates. Counting is scheduled for December 16.
Parties which have fielded candidates include Congress, UDP, HSPDP, BJP and KHNAM, besides the Independent candidates.
Except in Laban-Mawprem seat where the Congress is supporting the NCP candidate, the party has fielded candidates in all the other six seats. The by-poll is crucial for both the national biggies, the Congress and the BJP, which is trying to make inroads in the State, since it will be a verdict on the Congress-led MUA-II government and at the same time show what impact BJP has before the 2018 Assembly elections.
All the candidates that The Shillong Times spoke to were confident of winning.
UDP working president Bindo M. Lanong said he stands by his statement that the party would win at least three seats and it can even go up to 4-5 seats.
On the other hand, HSPDP chief Ardent Basaiawmoit also expressed confidence that the party would win in all the seats it is contesting.
KHNAM working president, Edelbert Nongrum said the party is 100 per cent confident that it would win the three seats it is contesting as all party MDCs except those of the KHNAM had resigned from their post after the passing of the dual post Bill. “They resigned and ran away from the problem instead of facing it as they did not want to be MDCs,” he said and added that the Government tried to shake P.N Syiem with the passing of the dual posts bill, but they were largely unsuccessful.
Congress senior leader Deborah Marak said the party is hoping for the best outcome even as she added that people should vote for the party if they want development.