SHILLONG, Sept 30 - The stage is set for the bypoll to Shella Assembly constituency of Meghalaya as six candidates filed their nominations on the last day on Monday to vie for the seat for voting will take place on October 21.
The seat was held by former United Democratic Party president and Assembly Speaker Donkupar Roy. After his demise earlier this year, the election is being held, in which the former speaker’s son, Balajiedkupar Synrem is a key candidate contesting on a UDP ticket.
The other candidates are Batyngshain Laitmon Ryngnga (Congress), independent candidate and a member of the District Council, Grace Kharpuri and another independent candidate Komen Laitmon.
The People’s Democratic Front (PDF) has fielded Mosjo Rockfeller Wanswett, and the BJP has jumped into the fray with Joshua Warjri.
However, the National People’s Party, showing solidarity with its alliance partner, has decided not to field any candidate, and would be supporting the UDP candidate.
The contest is mainly between Synrem, who has his father’s 31 years of legacy winning the seat for seven consecutive terms and never losing, and Congress candidate Ryngnga. However, the surprise package could be Wanswett of the PDF. Mosjo is the younger brother of Leston Wanswett, who had contested the 2018 Assembly election and lost by just 370 votes to the Speaker.
The Congress, on the other hand, which has had several setbacks across the country, is fighting to salvage some pride through this bye-election.
As for Synrem, he might have the sympathy wave working for him. According to Synrem, he would like to take forward the unfinished tasks of his late father. Synrem said his first objective was to ensure that Sohra subdivision, under which Shella falls, is upgraded to a district. The other priority is to address the poor road condition.
Roads have remained in deplorable condition for the past many decades, while the health care system is pitiable and educational facilities are lacking. Shella has remained one of the most impoverished constituencies in the state.
The constituency is rich in limestone deposits, and is home to the world’s largest cement producing companies Lafarge. The French multinational mines the ore from the constituency and sends it across to Bangladesh to its cement plant in Chattak through the world’s longest 17-km conveyor belt.
Shella was one of the flourishing trade centres before India’s independence and several items were traded to present day Bangladesh. However, after partition, this trade discontinued. It is also home to one of the oldest and important land customs stations in Bholaganj established in 1948 through which limestone, coal and boulders are exported to Bangladesh. The people here are involved in agriculture. Betel nut and oranges are cultivated.