Tura: A turnout of nearly 90 per cent was registered for the bypoll to Ampati seat in Meghalaya that was vacated by former Chief Minister Mukul Sangma earlier this year after he won from two seats. While the Congress has fielded Mr Sangma's daughter Miani D Shira, the ruling National People's Party (NPP)-led alliance steered by Chief Minister Conrad Sangma has fielded Clement Momin who is backed by the BJP and other regional parties.
Mr Sangma who has represented the seat six consecutive times says the timing was about right for him to step aside.
"It's the right time to pave the way for a new incumbent to serve the people who have stood firm behind me and the party. We look forward to a positive outcome," Mr Sangma told NDTV.
The outcome of this bypoll is significant as it will decide which party will hold the maximum number of seats in the 60-member assembly. The Congress whose tally in the assembly is now down to 20--equal to the seats the ruling NPP has--is keen on going one up.
The Congress that won 21 seats in the assembly polls has staked claim to form the government, citing the Karnataka example where the governor had first invited the BJP for being the single largest party. So will the outcome of the bypoll decide the next step of the Congress?
"It's not the right time to put the cards on the table. Politics in Meghalaya is very different; it's unlike other states and has seen lot of instability. Running a government in Meghalaya is not a matter of joke," said Mr Sangma, who is only the third chief minister in the hill state to complete a five-year term.
Meghalaya has seen 12 chief ministers since it was carved out of Assam in 1972.
Mr Sangma also took a jibe at the current state government, calling it "ad-hoc".
"It is an ad-hoc government as the chief minister is yet to get himself elected as a member of the house. He is still a member of parliament. This seat was vacated, he could have contested. I don't understand why he did not," mocked Mr Sangma.