Meghalaya Assembly polls: Counting of votes begins amid 3-tier security

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Public TV English
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SHILLONG: The counting of votes of the Meghalaya Assembly elections has begun across 13 counting centres across the state on Thursday.

According to the Meghalaya Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) FR Kharkongor, three-tier security arrangements have been made with Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) guarding the innermost layer and State Armed police will keep vigil over the second and third layers.

“We have 13 counting centres across the state, 12 in all district headquarters, one in Sohra Sub Division. 22 CAPF companies have been retained for purposes of ensuring 24×7 safeguard protocols in respect of the strong rooms containing the polled Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) of 3,419 polling stations in the 59 poll-going Assembly Constituencies and will stay on till April 4 for any post-poll contingencies/exigencies,” Kharkongor said.

The counting centres are all placed under CCTV and webcast surveillance. There will be a total of 383 rounds of counting, with a maximum of nine rounds for the biggest assembly constituency Mawlai in East Khasi Hills District and four rounds for smaller ACs like Dalu in West Garo Hills District, informed the CEO.

The counting in all 13 centres commenced at 8 am. Initially, the postal ballots are to be being counted for the first 30 minutes followed by the counting of polled votes in the EVM Control Units.

Shillong has the States maximum number of 14 Counting Halls, one each for each assembly constituency. West Garo Hills District Counting Centre caters to 11 assembly constituencies and is the second-largest counting centre in the state.

Election Commission has deployed 27 Counting Observers and over 500 micro observers are assisting the Counting Observers at each table.Each table has a counting Observer assisted by four counting assistants.

In seven polling stations, there were cases of non-deletion of mock poll data. These include a polling station in East Jaintia Hills, Khliehriat AC, one in West Khasi Hills, Rambhai AC, two in East Garo hills, Songsak AC, two in South West Garo Hills, Salmanpara ACs and one in Mylliem AC.

In the above polling stations, District Electoral Officers (DEO) and ROs (returning Officer) have been directed to strictly follow Election Commission protocols on counting. Also, post counting of EVMs, five polling stations will be selected at random, through a draw of lots and manual counting of five randomly selected EVMs will be undertaken as per ECI protocols.

Additionally, concerned DEOs have issued necessary orders pertaining to traffic arrangements and victory processions post-counting in respect of their concerned districts.

Ahead of the counting of votes for Meghalaya assembly polls, Meghalaya Chief Minister and National People’s Party (NPP) chief Conrad Sangma met Assam Chief Minister Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma in Guwahati on Tuesday night. Notably, Sarma is the convenor of the North-East Democratic Alliance (NEDA).

A top source of NPP told ANI that both Chief Ministers took part in a crucial meeting in a hotel in Guwahati and the meeting lasted for half an hour. Following the meeting, the Meghalaya Chief Minister returned to Tura in West Garo Hills. Earlier on Tuesday, Meghalaya CM hinted at forming a post-poll alliance to form the government.

The exit polls published by various media groups predicted that the northeastern state would have a hung house, with Sangma’s NPP emerging as the single-largest party. Following this, Conrad Sangma said that he would keep all options to form a stable government.

“We will keep all our options open to form a stable government. We are happy to see the trend is in line as we expected to get more seats than we received last time,” said Sangma.

Meghalaya recorded a voting percentage of over 76 per cent on Monday. Polling was held at 3,419 polling stations across 59 Assembly constituencies in the state. Of the 60 Assembly constituencies in Meghalaya, 36 constituencies fall in Khasi, Jaintia Hills region while 24 are in Garo Hills region.

However, polling for the Sohiong Assembly constituency was postponed following the demise of the state’s former Home Minister and United Democratic Party (UDP) candidate from the seat HDR Lyngdoh. (ANI)

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