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In unique initiative, voters to plant tree saplings besides voting in Sohiong tomorrow

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Shillong, May 9: The stage is set for the crucial adjourned election in Sohiong Assembly constituency on Wednesday.

Polling will start at 7 am and conclude at 4 pm. 34,783 voters, of which 17,096 are males and 17687 are females, will exercise their franchise in 63 polling stations, to elect their new representative.

Election in Sohiong was adjourned after the sudden demise of former home minister and candidate of UDP, HDR Lyngdoh, on February 20.

“In terms of the general preparation, everything is on track. All polling parties have arrived in their respective polling stations without any hiccups and they are all geared up for the polling tomorrow,” state’s chief electoral officer (CEO) FR Kharkongor told reporters on Tuesday.

He informed that about 154 plus senior citizens, who are 80 years old and above and 54 persons with disabilities have already casted their votes from their respective homes.

“Of course against those who have applied Form 12D, 2 had expired and 1 opted to vote in the polling station. Barring these three, all those who have applied have casted their votes and our polling parties have also gone to the last mile to ensure that these people exercise their franchise,” he said.

The CEO said that no report was received against violation during the silence period which started on Monday.

Five companies of CAPF have been deployed for the Sohiong poll.

All women flying squads have also been activated in the constituency for the first time besides all women polling station, youth managed polling stations.

In the model polling station at Nongpathaw, Kharkongor said for the first time, the voters will be planting tree saplings.

“Saplings have been arranged to have a sort of a better connect to engage the voters to symbolically plant the seed of democracy because we do these special activities in these model polling stations. This is one additional item which is being done this time.”

When asked, the CEO said historically, Sohiong has always voted 90% and above adding “We hope this time also the voting percentage will touch 90% and above. We are keeping our fingers crossed and if the weather holds good then Sohiong will again maintain that voting percentage of 90% plus.”

Stating that there has been no major report on violation against the model code of conduct, Kharkongor however said one complaint was received against an alleged hate speech and that the district election officer has already taken cognizance and notice was also issued adding appropriate action was also taken in this regard.

Meanwhile, the CEO further said that preparations for the counting are also on track. The counting will be held at the State Central Library on May 13.

“All arrangements have been made. Three tier system as per ECI protocols that is being maintained and also some extra security measures will also be in place to ensure there is crowd control and there is no post poll violence hopefully and that all preparation will be on track and without any disruption,” he added.

Kharkongor also maintained that the result declared by the returning officer (RO) will be the only authorized result and said, “We appeal through the media that no half-baked result should be announced as it had happened in the past. Only authorized results transmitted by the RO should be taken as authentic. This will prevent avoidable excitement on the part of supporters and others.”

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