TURA (Meghalaya), May 16 (IANS): Over 44 percent of the over six lakh voters exercised their franchise by Monday afternoon to elect a Lok Sabha member from Tura in Meghalaya.
The by-election was necessitated following the demise of former Lok Sabha Speaker Purno A Sangma on March 4.
"Polling is going on smoothly and 44.2 percent have voted by 1.00 p.m.," Chief Electoral Officer Frederick Kharkongor told IANS.
Sangma's youngest son Conrad K. Sangma of the NPP is pitted against Congress nominee Dikkanchi.D. Shira, wife of Chief Minister Mukul Sangma.
"We (Congress) are optimistic of winning," Shira told IANS after voting at Chengkompara in Ampati assembly segment.
Shira, a legislator in the 60-member Meghalaya assembly, was accompanied by Mukul Sangma and their daughter. She was equally confident of winning.
"I am hopeful we will win because the voters have realised the good work carried out by the Congress government," she said.
Conrad earlier exuded confidence that the voters of Garo Hills would elect him as the Lok Sabha member as a tribute to his late father Purno Sangma.
Conrad, who has the support of the BJP and regional parties like the United Democratic Party (UDP), is a former Meghalaya finance minister and the Opposition leader in the state Assembly.
Since 1977 and until his demise on March 4 this year, with the exception of 1989 and 2009, the late Purno Sangma had represented Tura in the Lok Sabha for nine terms.
The Tura Lok Sabha seat, which covers 24 assembly segments, has 622,189 voters.