Shillong: Defying a bandh called by militants in seven districts, 88 percent of over 15 lakh electorate excercised their votes for 60-member Meghalaya Assembly elections on Saturday.

"Till 1pm around 51 percent of votes were cast out of the 15 lakh plus voters in the state," Chief Election Officer P Naik said.

He said that voting was more intense in Khasi Jaintia Hills region despite a 36-hour bandh called from 6 pm on Friday by the banned Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council in seven districts.

A large number of voters, mostly women, were seen in queues before voting began at 7 am. The polling was peaceful with security forces maintaining tight vigil especially in the 900 booths categorised as hyper sensitive in the militant-hit Garo Hills and along the international and inter-state borders, he said.

Total number of seats
90
Total voters
15,03,907
Total candidates
345
Total polling stations
2,845
Total 'hyper-sensitive' booths
900
Political parties contesting seats
Congress
60
United Democratic Party 50
P A Sangma-led NPP 32
NCP
21
BJP
13
Prominent candidates: Chief Minister Mukul Sangma, Meghalaya Congress chief DD Lapang, Home Minister HDR Lyngdoh, Education Minister RC Laloo, UDP president Don Kupar Roy, former Leader of Opposition and son of PA Sangma Conrad K Sangma and his brother James Sangma

In view of the bandh, the government has deployed around 100 public transport vehicles in the capital city and the East Khasi Hills district for the convenience of voters.

The electoral fate of four former chief ministers, three from Congress which include Mukul Sangma, party chief D D Lapang and S C Marak will be decided.

The ruling Congress is the only party contesting all the 60 seats followed by the UDP in 50 seats. The P A Sangma led National Peoples’ Party in the opposition is contesting in only 32 seats.

Altogether 91 companies of central paramilitary forces have been deployed to maintain law and order in the state. The BSF has sealed the 498 km border with Bangladesh and deployed additional forces.

(Agencies)

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