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6 left in fray for Shillong LS seat
Staff Correspondent
 SHILLONG, March 28 - Six candidates are left in the fray for the Shillong Lok Sabha seat after two candidates withdrew their candidature on the last day for withdrawal of nominations.

 CPI candidate Justice Kharbasanti and Congress ‘substitute’ candidate Kennedy Cornelius Khyriem have withdrawn their nominations, Returning Officer (RO) Abhishek Bhagotia said today.

Now, the contest is among Congress candidate Vincent H Pala, UDP’s Jemino Mawthoh, BJP candidate Sanbor Shullai and three Independent candidates, THS Bonney, Romeo Phira Rani and Sameul Hashah.

The candidature of Bonney was accepted by the RO today after claims and objections were settled amicably. Bonney’s candidature to contest on a Khun Hynniewtrep National Awakening Movement (KHNAM) ticket was set aside as the party president, P Saibon, raised objections.

After the objections were raised, the RO asked the candidate to send a response and based on the submissions, it was decided that Bonney would be allowed to contest as an Independent candidate with the symbol, key. The KHNAM symbol is a machete.

On the other hand, CPI candidate Kharbasanti’s nomination papers were also kept on hold and his reply sought regarding non-declaration of a bank loan. However, the candidate today decided to withdraw his candidature.

The contest for the Shillong seat is mainly between the sitting Congress, UDP and BJP candidates. Pala is seeking his third term in Parliament and Mawthoh has emerged as the main challenger, fighting on a UDP ticket, but backed by the NPP and regional parties as their common candidate.

Canvassing has slowly picked up with all the candidates campaigning in different parts of the constituency. There are 36 Assembly segments under the Shillong Lok Sabha seat. Majority of these seats is held by the regional parties in the Assembly. During the district council elections, the NPP and other regional parties again won the majority of seats.

Therefore, the challenge is stiff for the sitting Congress candidate from the regional NPP combine. The anti-incumbency factor may also come into play.

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