An estimated 66% of voters Wednesday cast their ballots for the two Lok Sabha seats in Meghalaya as people defied a shutdown called by an outlawed group.
"Around 66% voters cast their ballot till 5 p.m. in Shillong and Tura constituencies in the state. We expect the %age to increase after reports from all polling centres are received," state Chief Electoral Officer Prashant Naik said.
In Shillong, the voter turnout was around 62%, while in Tura it was around 70 %. The final voting figure would be available later, he said.
"Polling was conducted in a free, fair and peaceful manner with no report of major incidents," Naik said.
However, he said there were reports of snags in some electronic voting machines (EVMs) that were replaced immediately.
In the morning hours, suspected insurgents fired blanks near the Tolegre polling booth in South Garo Hills district to create panic. However, no one was injured in the incident.
Even a herd of wild elephants disrupted movement of election officials to two polling booths - Nokchi and Halchatti - under Tura.
"Wild elephants blocked the road disrupting movement of sector election officials to two polling booths - Nokchi and Halchatti," South West Garo Hills District Magistrate Ram Singh told IANS.
The road was cleared by forest guards who chased away the elephants back into the forest.
Of the total electors, 22.62% are in the 18-25 age group, while 50.43% are women. Tura has 5,86,501 voters while Shillong has 9,80,740 electors.
In Shillong, there were eight candidates, including lone woman candidate Ivoryna Shylla, who is fighting as an Independent.
Prominent candidates in the state capital include sitting Congress member Vincent H. Pala, Paul Lyngdoh (United Democratic Party), Shibun Lyngdoh (Bharatiya Janata Party) and P.B.M. Basaiawmoit (Independent).
In Tura, former Lok Sabha speaker and National People's Party candidate Purno A. Sangma is pitted against Daryl William Cheran Momin of the Congress.
"I am confident to sail through this time as the electors have assured me of their votes," Purno Sangma said after voting.
He said the BJP-led alliance will form the next government at the Centre with Narendra Modi as prime minister.
The Border Security Force stepped up patrolling along the Bangladesh border in Meghalaya following the shutdown called by 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 election," BSF spokesman Mahendra Singh said.
Meghalaya with a population of nearly three million, has a total of 15,67,241 electors of which 22.62% are in the 18-25 age group, while 50.43% are women in this matrilineal state.
"Who are they (HNLC) to deny my democratic rights? People have come out in large numbers to exercise their franchise without fear," said Mathew Sohtun, a voter in Shillong.
Chief Minister Mukul Sangma, who is leading the Congress-led Meghalaya United Alliance government, said he was optimistic that the Congress will retain power.
"I am optimistic we will still do well as the election progresses across the country... there is to Modi wave as such... it's only a hype," he said.
He said he doesn't see Modi becoming prime minister.
"Any person having a fundamentalist background cannot aspire to become prime minister. The whole issue (Modi's prime ministerial candidature) is being driven by this group which had a hand in unpleasant things in the history of India," he said.
The United Democratic Party (UDP) was equally confident of winning from Shillong.
"We are confident that our UDP candidate Paul Lyngdoh will sail through," party chief and former chief minister Donkupar Roy said.