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Keen contest in Tura LS bypoll
February 14, 2006 14:42 IST
The stage is all set for Thursday's Lok Sabha bypoll in Tura, Meghalaya, with a keen contest taking place between former Lok Sabha speaker P A Sangma and former deputy chief minister Mukul Sangma.
P A Sangma, contesting his home town constituency for the ninth time in a row, represents Nationalist Congress Party, whereas Mukul Sangma, who was defeated by the former in 2004 Lok Sabha polls, is from Congress.
P A Sangma, who contested the last poll as a Nationalist Trinamool Congress candidate, had won by a margin of over 72,000 votes.
The bypoll was necessitated after P A Sangma resigned in protest of the police firing in Garo hills on September 30 in the wake of Meghalaya Board of School Education controversy that claimed nine lives.
Over a hundred people were injured in the two police firing incidents for which Mukul Sangma, the then incharge of home and education departments, is virtually held responsible by a section of the people.
The Garo Students Union has reportedly issued a diktat to voters to exercise their franchise in favour of P A Sangma opposing Mukul Sangma, prompting the authorities to send a show-cause notice to the student body.
The Garo militant outfit Achik National Volunteers Council, on truce with the Centre, has taken a neutral stand, unlike 2004 polls when it sided with P A Sangma.
Besides the two heavy weights, the candidates contesting as independents are Ismail A Sangma and Winstone G Momin.
Though the election is being fought in the shadow of the MBOSE controversy, developmental issues have taken the centrestage.
The NCP, in its campaign, charged the Congress government in the state with showing "negligence" towards the Garo hills region.
The Congress tried to counter it using the services of Union ministers P R Kyndiah and Oscar Fernandes.
Meanwhile, security has been tightened in the Garo hills. Its three districts -- west, east and south -- comprise the Tura Lok Sabha constituency.
Returning Officer P Sampath Kumar told PTI on phone from Tura that a free and fair election would be ensured with additional Central Reserve Police Force and Border Security Force personnel assisting the state police.
Kumar said 146 polling stations have been categorised as "sensitive".