Eight Meghalaya MLAs avoid casting vote
Shillong, July 17 (IANS): Eight legislators in the 60-member Meghalaya Assembly abstained from voting in Monday’s presidential election, an election official said. According to Congress legislator Kennedy Khyriem, senior party leader and state minister Martin M. Danggo was amongst those who could not cast his vote, as he is undergoing treatment in a Chennai hospital, while Parliamentary Secretary Justine Dkhar is in Bengaluru.
Independent legislator Julius Kitbok Dorphang, who is lodged in Shillong prison on charges of raping a minor, did not seek to vote in the presidential election, Chief Electoral Officer Frederick Roy Kharkongor told IANS. Of the eight opposition United Democratic Party (UDP) legislators, Brolding Nongsiej abstained from voting.
“We do not know what could be the reason that he (Nongsiej) did not exercise his franchise,” UDP leader Bindo Mathew Lanong said. The opposition Hill State People’s Democratic Party (HSPDP), which has four legislators, also abstained from voting in protest against the alleged anti-minority stand of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA)’s presidential nominee Ram Nath Kovind.
They also decided not to vote in favour of opposition-backed Congress candidate Meira Kumar, as “the Congress has failed to govern the country for several decades”. Two National People’s Party legislators, an ally of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), have supported Kovind, while the UDP legislator Donkupar Roy said his party legislators would support the “winning candidate”.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Mukul Sangma made a scathing attack on the legislators supporting NDA’s candidate Kovind. “It will be interesting to see how this turns out to be, as decision of any member to vote for the BJP-led candidate will be endorsement of the agendas of NDA and RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh),” Sangma told journalists after casting his vote.
He, however, felt that the HSPDP legislators could have voted in favour of Meira Kumar. The ruling Meghalaya United Alliance has 44 members — 30 from the Congress, two from the Nationalist Congress Party, 11 Independents and one of the North East Socialist Democratic Party. Two other Independents are in the opposition.