In Meghalaya, 372 candidates, including chief minister Mukul Sangma who is contesting from two seats, remained in the fray for the Assembly elections slated for February 27.
At least three standby candidates, Innocent Phawa (Nartiang), S. Bamon (Sutnga Saipung) and L. Ymbon (Raliang) withdrew their nominations on Monday, the last day for withdrawal of papers.
Meghalaya chief electoral officer Frederick Roy Kharkongor said of the 372 candidates, 32 are women and 87 Independents. Rongjeng seat has the maximum number of candidates, 11, while Ampati, Bajengdoba and Sohïong have the least number of candidates, three each.
Kharkongor said an Election Commission team of Chief Election Commissioner Om Prakash Rawat and election commissioners Sunil Arora and Ashok Lavasa, will arrive here for a two-day visit from February 15.
The team will hold meetings with superintendents of police and deputy commissioners of all districts as well as income tax and excise narcotics bureau officials for poll preparedness.
Meghalaya has over 18.31 lakh voters and 3,083 polling stations. There are 633 vulnerable booths, 315 critical booths and 75 booths considered both vulnerable and critical. There will be 67 all-women booths and 60 model booths while 193 polling stations will be brought under web casting.
Kharkongor said 172 polling stations are located along the Meghalaya-Assam border and 102 polling parties have to move to these polling booths via Assam.
So far, 6,391 licensed arms have been deposited with the election authorities while Rs 2.5 lakh and 6kg of explosives have been seized.
At present, 20 companies of central armed police force are stationed in the state, including 10 existing companies for election duty. Kharkongor said the remaining 80 companies would arrive in Meghalaya after the Assembly polls in Tripura on February 18. He said all measures were being taken to ensure the conduct of free, fair and peaceful polls.
Kharkongor said the Election Commission would hold discussions through video-conferencing with the chief secretaries of Meghalaya and Assam to discuss inter-state matters in view of the polls.