The fates of three candidates for the Ampati Assembly by-poll have been sealed in the electronic voting machines and voter verifiable paper audit trails after a huge turnout of 90.55 per cent was recorded. Polling was held amid scorching heat both natural and political in the high profile constituency considered as the “battle of supremacy” between chief minister Conrad K Sangma and leader of Opposition Mukul Sangma.
The voting will decide the fates of Miani Dalbot Shira, the Congress nominee and eldest daughter of the leader of Opposition, candidate of the ruling National People’s Party, Clement G Momin and Independent nominee, Subhankar Koch.
The by-poll to fill up the vacant Ampati seat was conducted when Mukul Sangma who represented the constituency for six consecutive terms since 1993 gave up the seat after he was also elected as the MLA of Songsak in the February-27 Assembly polls.
Voting in 39 polling booths passed off peacefully, and Meghalaya Chief Electoral Officer F R Kharkongor told reporters in Shillong in the evening that the voter turnout in 24 polling booths recorded more than 90 per cent.
Kharkongor said that while Morkona polling booth recorded the lowest turnout at 83.52 per cent, Jelbongpara polling station scored the highest at 96.81 per cent.
In the February-27 Assembly polls, the turnout of voters in Ampati was 90.70 per cent, slightly higher by 0.28 per cent from the turnout in this by-poll.
“Though the voting percentage was 90.42, but the district election officer was in the process of compiling complete figure,” he said.
But the peaceful polling throughout the day did not escape from controversy related to violation of model code of conduct as the constituency witnessed complaints and counter complaints prior to voting from both the opposition Congress and the ruling NPP.
Cash worth Rs 9,94,800 was seized on two occasions from certain individuals in the constituency.
Kharkongor said that as many as five FIRs were lodged and steps were being taken to issue show cause notices.
On the complaint that the chief minister was moving in Ampati on Sunday late night, Kharkongor said that show-cause notices were being served after ascertaining the complaint as there were many complaints and counter complaints.
“All cases are under investigation and there are five FIRs and counter FIRs received from both sides,” Kharkongor said.
Earlier complaints and counter complaints were lodged with police as well as with the returning officer for the by-election by the Congress and NPP accusing each other of violating the model code of conduct.
The Congress accused NPP leaders including home minister James K Sangma, South Tura MLA, Agatha K Sangma of bribing voters at Taktaki village in favour of the NPP candidate. It also alleged chief minister Conrad K Sangma of visiting Ampati on Sunday night though the campaign period had ended at 5 pm on Saturday.
The NPP also accused the leader of Opposition of campaigning after the campaign period at Bollongitok village, but a counter complaint was filed by the Congress against NPP leader Ian Bothan Sangma accusing him of camping in Ampati though he is the resident of Tura and that he was filing false complaint since Mukul Sangma was not present at Bollongitok village on May 26 neither during day time or at night as alleged.
Earlier the NPP accused that Congress workers were also following the NPP leaders during the campaign, while the Congress alleged that the Home Minister, South Tura MLA and other NPP workers got into an altercation with Congress workers at Taktaki in the wee hour of Saturday and detained some Congress workers and their vehicles by using their own security personnel.