The returning officer for Shillong parliamentary constituency on Thursday allowed T.H.S. Bonney to contest as an Independent candidate, but not as a candidate of the Khun Hynñiewtrep National Awakening Movement (KHNAM).
This decision was taken by the returning officer, Abhishek Bhagotia, after examining the objections raised against Bonney as KHNAM candidate and the submissions made by Bonney.
Earlier, the returning officer, Abhishek Bhagotia, had withheld the nomination papers of Bonney as KHNAM candidate, and Justice Kharbasanti of the CPI following complaints against them.
Bonney’s nomination came under further scrutiny after KHNAM president Pyndapborthiaw Saibon, who was re-instated to the post through a court order on March 20.
Saibon urged the election authority not to recognise Bonney as KHNAM candidate on the ground that the forms ‘A and B’ relating to allotment of ticket, which were earlier issued by Adelbert Nongrum as president of the party, have become null and void with the coming of the court order.
The candidature of Kharbasanti was withheld after a complaint was received from a bank that he did not disclose some pending dues.
Bonney had replied to the returning officer that he had filed his nominations as KHNAM candidate on March 19, before an order passed by the court.
“Taking into consideration all objections raised by Saibon based on the court order, as well as materials and submissions made by Bonney, it was found that Bonney is eligible as an Independent candidate, but not as candidate of a political party,” Bhagotia said.
Hence, Bhagotia said, Bonney was allowed to contest as Independent and ‘key’ is his election symbol.
On the complaint against Kharbasanti, the returning officer informed that he has given his submissions in writing and he admitted for not having disclosed pending dues to be paid to the bank.
“However, the matter related to non-disclosure of pending dues is over since Kharbasanti has withdrawn his candidature,” Bhagotia said.
After the withdrawal of Kharbasanti, the number of candidates in the fray from Shillong Lok Sabha constituency now is six.
The six candidates include sitting Congress MP Vincent H. Pala, who is seeking re-election for the third time; Jemino Mawthoh of the United Democratic Party (UDP); BJP candidate and sitting legislator from South Shillong Assembly constituency, Sanbor Shullai and three Independents – Bonney, Samuel Hashah and Romeo Phira Rani.
Meanwhile, Bonney told reporters that the circumstances forced him to contest as an Independent and urged people to support him.
Stating that he has no hard feelings for not getting the chance to contest as KHNAM candidate, Bonney urged all leaders and workers of KHNAM to support him.
Asked if the lone KHNAM legislator, Adelbert Nongrum, would support him in this election, Bonney said that Nongrum is free to support him, and provisions related to anti-defection under the tenth schedule of the Constitution will not restrict Nongrum, being a lone MLA of the party in Assembly.
“According to the provisions of the tenth schedule, 75 percent of the legislature of a political party can merge with the legislature of another party, and Nongrum, being the lone MLA, he is 100 per cent in the KHNAM legislature party,” Bonney said.