Shillong, April 9 :
Voting picked up Wednesday for the two Lok Sabha seats in Meghalaya, even as the of firing of blanks was reported near a polling centre and wild elephants disrupted officials from visiting two polling booths in the state.
“Around 39 percent of the 15,67,241 electors voted till 1 p.m. in Shillong and Tura,” State Chief Electoral Officer Prashant Naik said, adding that the turnout is expected to increase as the day progresses.
Meanwhile, suspected insurgents fired blanks near the Tolegre polling booth in South Garo Hills district under Tura parliamentary constituency.
“We don’t know who was behind the firing as it took place near a jungle,” said district police chief Lakardor Syiem, adding that balloting continued there.
A herd of wild elephants, meanwhile, disrupted movement of election officials to two polling booths – Nokchi and Halchatti – under Tura.
“Wild elephants blocked the road disrupting movement of sector election officials to two polling booths – Nokchi and Halchatti,” South West Garo Hills District Magistrate Ram Singh told IANS.
The road was cleared as forest guards chased away the elephants into the forest.
The ruling Congress in the state is pitted against fractured regional parties for the two Lok Sabha seats in the mountainous state. Eight of the 10 candidates are crorepatis.
Of the total 15,67,241 electors, 22.62 percent are in the 18-25 age group, while 50.43 percent are women. Tura has 5,86,501 voters while the Shillong seat will be decided by 9,80,740 electors.
In Shillong, there are eight candidates, including lone woman candidate Ivoryna Shylla, who is fighting as an independent.
Prominent candidates in the state capital include sitting Congress member Vincent H. Pala, Paul Lyngdoh (United Democratic Party), Shibun Lyngdoh (Bharatiya Janata Party) and P.B.M. Basaiawmoit (Independent).
Former Lok Sabha speaker and National People’s Party candidate Purno A. Sangma is pitted against Daryl William Cheran Momin of the Congress.
“I am confident to sail through this time as the electors have assured me of their votes,” Purno Sangma said after voting.
He said the BJP-led alliance will form the next government at the centre with Narendra Modi as prime minister.
“The NDA will form the next government as people are totally fed up with the failure of the Congress government which is stained with scams,” Sangma said.
However, Chief Minister Mukul Sangma, who is leading the Congress-led Meghalaya United Alliance government, said he was optimistic that the Congress will retain power.
“I am optimistic we will still do well as the election progresses across the country and there is no Modi wave as such… it’s only a hype,” he said.
He said he doesn’t see Modi becoming prime minister.
“Any person having a fundamentalist background cannot aspire to become prime minister. The whole issue (Modi’s prime ministerial candidature) is being driven by this group which had a hand in unpleasant things in the history of India,” he said.