SHILLONG | JUNE 19, 2020:
The election to the lone Rajya Sabha seat in Meghalaya began at 9 am today morning. The polling exercise will continue till 4 pm today.
The candidates vying for a seat in the Upper House include NPP leader and consensus candidate of the Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA), Dr. WR Kharlukhi, and Congress leader, Kennedy Khyriem.
The polling which is being held in the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly premises has already been sanitized and all health protocols are being followed like temperature checks, use of hand sanitizers, and wearing of masks, as a safety measure to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
It may be mentioned that the NPP has 21 MLAs and Congress has 19 in the House of 60. And there is a high possibility that the NPP will emerge victorious given the number of MLAs from the MDA it has in its favor.
Here's what the Candidates have to say:
Dr. WR Kharlukhi was unwilling to speak much on the ongoing process and said "My feeling is that – if its God's will, I will succeed, if not, I don't know, I may lose."
Kennedy Khyriem expressed determination that the members of the house, barring the NPP, will vote as per their conscience and not as partners of the NPP. He asserted that the election is between the Congress and the NPP and not the MDA. "We have been negotiating with the other legislators from the coalition like the PDF, HSPDP, and UDP; now we only have to wait and see the outcome," he said.
Reacting to a question, Khyriem said, given the fact that the NPP is an alliance of the BJP both at the Centre and the State, the ruling party will not be able to raise the issues afflicting the people and the issue of Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) is a good example of the inability of the NPP to stand up against the BJP.
"Just like what Tura Lok Sabha MP, Agatha Sangma did with regards to the CAB (now CAA), I am certain that Dr. Kharlukhi too will do the same," he added.
What the Chief Minister and Leader of Opposition have to say:
Conrad K Sangma said that the process is going on smoothly and the preparations made by the Election Commission of India (ECI) and the State Assembly have been very well done. Most of the legislators of the MDA have already cast their votes. "We are very positive of winning this election," he said.
Reacting to a question on the attempt of the Congress to convince the coalition partners to vote in their favor, Sangma said that the Opposition may be trying to do that but "The MLAs of the MDA are very firm; we have had multiple discussions and we don't see any issue at all," he added.
Leader of the Opposition,
Dr. Mukul Sangma has said that if one goes by the commitments made by the members of the electoral college to the people of the state, then the outcome would be different. "If we go by that commitment, I'm sure that majority of the members, barring the NPP, will vote for Congress, if they are honest to the commitment made to the people of the state and the Jaidbynriew," he said.
Speaking on the political dynamics in the state, the LO said that there are lots of issues and instances of corruption but now because everyone is preoccupied to deal with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, these issues have been sidelined.
What other members of the House have to say:
Cabinet Minister and NPP leader,
James PK Sangma exuded confidence in attaining victory. "Without any doubt, Dr. Kharlukhi will come out victorious. We are very confident of that since all of us are in this together including the MDA partners," he said.
Reacting to a query, Sangma said that it is the job of the Opposition to create as much confusion but it will not have any effect, whatsoever.
Echoing similar views, Independent MLA from Mawphlang,
SK Sunn is hopeful that the MDA consensus candidate, Dr. WR Kharlukhi will win the election.
Having high expectations from Kharlukhi, Sunn said that given his qualification, Kharlukhi will be able to highlight and raise the issues pertaining to the state at the Upper House, in a better way.
When asked whether the CAA issue will act as a deterrent for the NPP president to gain the favor of the other members of the house, he replied in the negative. "I don't think we can do anything about CAA anymore, it is already a foregone conclusion. It was already voted by both the Upper and Lower house. Dr. Kharlukhi is a Khasi; he will not do anything against the Khasi community," added Sunn.
Meanwhile, Congress leader,
Charles Pyngrope said, "If you go by the standard protocols, then the NPP has an advantage. But I hope better sense will prevail. I hope the members will vote in favor of the party that will speak for and not against the interest of the people of the state."
When asked about the attempt of Congress to persuade the members of the House to vote in their favor, Pyngrope said that it is not a question of persuasion. "The NPP has set up the candidate, not the MDA. Therefore, besides the members of NPP, other members are free to vote on their will and conscience," he added.
It may be mentioned that the results will be announced today at 5 pm.