Shillong, Feb 28 (IANS) The Congress emerged as the single largest party in Meghalaya by securing 29 seats in the 60-member assembly, with Chief Minister Mukul Sangma set for a second term.
"The people have responded to us for good governance and development," a jubilant Sangma, 47, told IANS by phone from Tura, the district headquarters of West Garo Hills.
Sangma retained his Ampati constituency for the fifth successive term, defeating his nearest National People's Party (NPP) rival by more than 9,000 votes. His wife Dikkachi D. Shira and his brother Zenith M. Sangma were victorious from Mahendraganj and Rangsakona constituency.
The Congress won four more seats than in 2008.
"I am glad that the people of Meghalaya reposed faith in the Congress," Sangma said.
There were celebrations across Meghalaya in the Congress camp with victory processions being taken out and jubilant supporters and candidates bursting crackers and distributing sweets.
Of the 122 Independents, 13, including two former Congress legislators - Saleng A. Sangma and Samuel Sangma - who were denied Congress tickets also won.
The electoral battle proved fatal for former Lok Sabha speaker P.A. Sangma's NPP as only two of its 32 candidates won.
James Sangma, the eldest son of the former Lok Sabha speaker, and Nihim D. Shira were the only NPP candidates who managed to retain their seats in the assembly.
"If it is the people's mandate, we have to accepted it," Leader of Opposition Conrad K. Sangma, who lost his Selsella seat to Congress rival Clement Marak by a margin of 2,000 votes, told IANS.
The United Democratic Party, a key ally in the outgoing Congress-led coalition government, climbed down to eight seats from the 11 it won in 2008.
"The result is shocking and unbelievable. We were expecting 16 seats, but we got only eight," former chief minister and UDP chief Donkupar Roy told IANS.
Roy, who retained his Shella seat for the sixth time, blamed the the use of "money power" by rivals for his party's poor performance.
The Hill State People's Democratic Party (HSPDP), the oldest regional party in Meghalaya, increased its tally from two to four.
Hoping Stone Lyngdoh, the HSPDP supremo, retained his Nongstoin seat for the eighth time, defeating Adviser Pariong.
Prominent Congress candidates who won included Deputy Chief Minister Rowell Lyngdoh, Home Minister H.D.R. Lyngdoh, Forests and Environment Minister Prestone Tynsong, Urban Affairs Minister Mazel Ampareen Lyngdoh, Ronnie V. Lyngdoh and P.N. Syiem.
Veteran Congress leaders and former chief minister S.C. Marak and D.D. Lapang also won from Resubelpara and Nongpoh constituencies.
The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) also won two seats. Deputy Speaker Sanbor Shullai of the NCP retained his South Shillong seat.
Speaker Charles Pyngrope was defeated by UDP candidate Jemino Mawthoh by 1,019 votes in the Nongthymmai constituency.
Congress minister Shitlang Pale, UDP leaders Bindo M. Lanong and J.A. Lyngdoh were among the prominent losers.