Shillong: Voting for the two Lok Sabha seats in Meghalaya was underway on Thursday amid tight security, an official said.
Men and women in large numbers queued up in front of polling stations well before voting started at 7 a.m. across the state. Polling will end at 4 p.m., Chief Electoral Officer Frederick Roy Kharkongor said
In the two constituencies of Shillong and Tura, a total of 19,14,795 electors with 52 per cent of them women, are expected to exercise their franchise to elect two new Lok Sabha members.
Among the electors, 11,97,806 voters are in the Shillong constituency that has 36 Assembly seats and 7,16,989 voters will cast their votes in the Tura seat that covers 24 Assembly segments.
There are 4,986 voters with disabilities and the Election Commission has issued over 800 Braille-enabled ballot papers for 797 visually impaired voters across the state.
Of a 3,167 polling stations, the Election Commission has identified 417 as vulnerable and 107 as critical
Forty companies of the central armed police forces, 9,000 Meghalaya police personnel and Home Guards have been deployed to prevent any untoward incidents.
Around 300 polling stations would have the facility of web-casting.
In the Shillong parliamentary constituency, there are six candidates including outgoing MP Vincent H. Pala, who is pitted against Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) Sanbor Shullai, United Democratic Party's (UDP) Jemino Mawthoh and three Independents - T.H.S. Bonney, Romeo Phira Ranee and Samuel Hashah.
"I am confident that majority of the electors of Shillong parliamentary constituency will vote in my favour because of their love for the Congress party," Pala told IANS after casting his vote at Lamyrsiang village in East Jaintia Hills district.
Pala is seeking re-election for a third consecutive term.
However, the focus is on the Tura seat where former Chief Minister Mukul Sangma of the Congress is confident of defeating former Union Minister and National People's Party (NPP) nominee Agatha Kongkal Sangma and Meghalaya's BJP vice-president Rikman G. Momin.
Though, the BJP which is part of the NPP-led Meghalaya Democratic Alliance government, the saffron party is fighting the elections on its own.
Both Mawthoh and Agatha Sangma, the sister of the Chief Minister and the youngest daughter of former Lok Sabha Speaker Purno Agitok Sangma, will contest on symbols of their own party's - the UDP and the NPP, respectively.