Shillong/Kohima: Polling for the Assembly elections were conducted in Meghalaya and Nagaland on Saturday. While Meghalaya recorded over 88 per cent polling, Nagaland witnessed a voting percentage of 83.27. The two northeastern states have 60-member assembly each. In Nagaland, polling was postponed in one constituency following the death of a Congress candidate.
Twelve per cent of the electorate exercised their franchise in the first two hours of voting for Meghalaya Assembly. Ballotting was peaceful across Meghalaya as people came out to vote despite a shutdown called by an outlawed group.
In Nagaland, over 1.5 million voters - about half the population of the state - were eligible to decide the fate of 345 candidates, including 25 women and 122 independents.
Ballotting took place at 2,485 polling booths, of which 842 were termed hyper-sensitive. Earlier on Saturday, Chief Electoral Officer Prashant Naik had said, "Polling is picking up slowly and over 11 per cent voters have cast their votes so far across the state."
Meanwhile, the Border Security Force (BSF) stepped up patrolling along the India-Bangladesh border in Meghalaya following the shutdown called by the Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC). "We have put our troopers on high alert all along the Bangladesh border to prevent possible infiltration of HNLC rebels into Meghalaya to disrupt the elections," BSF spokesman Ravi Gandhi said.
The HNLC, which runs hit-and-run operations from its hideout in Bangladesh, has been demanding a sovereign Khasi homeland in eastern Meghalaya. In the 60-member assembly, the ruling Congress had fielded candidates in all constituencies followed by the United Democratic Party (UDP) in 50 seats.
The Purno Sangma-led Nationalist People's Party (NPP) had 32 candidates while the Nationalist Congress Party contested in 21 seats. Smaller parties like the Hill State People's Democratic Party fielded 17 candidates.
Former chief minister and United Democratic Party Chief Donkupar Roy cast his ballot at around 7:30 am at the polling booth in Disong in Shella constituency. "I am confident that the UDP will gain more seats in this election and we are confident to oust the Congress party from power," Roy told IANS after casting his vote.
(With Additional Inputs from PTI & IANS)