Polling for two Lok Sabha seats in Meghalaya began on a peaceful note in the second phase of the election today.
Congress, BJP, former Lok Sabha speaker PA Sangma's National Peoples Party, regional party United Democratic Party (UDP) besides independents supported by small regional parties will fight it out in a multi-cornered contest in Shillong and Tura seats. Sangma, who has won the Tura seat eight out of ten times, is pitted in a straight fight against Congress candidate Daryl Momin for the seat.
In Shillong a total eight contestants are in the fray, including the sitting Congress MP Vincent Pala, UDP candidate former student leader Paul Lyngdoh, BJP nominee Shibun Lyngdoh besides church leader P B M Basaiawmoit, who is fighting as an independnent. Congress has won Shillong seat seven times between 1977 and 2009, with an unbroken stint in the seat since 1996.
Of the 15,53,028-strong electorate, 7,83,270 are women and outnumber men by 13,512. There are 343 sensitive polling booths out of 2,562, of which 85 per cent are in the militant-hit Garo Hills region and classified as hyper sensitive. Polling stations along the international border with Bangladesh and inter-state border with Assam are also classified as such.
Security has been tightened in Khasi Jaintia Hills region following a 12-hr bandh called by banned HNLC since 5 am today. Additional forces have been deployed and the BSF has closed the 443 km-long Indo-Bangla international border. Governor K K Paul has already cast his vote at a polling booth here.