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Meghalaya assembly polls: Key takeaways from the election campaign

BySaptarshi Das
Feb 27, 2023 10:08 AM IST

Of the 60 assembly constituencies in Meghalaya, 36 fall in Khasi, Jaintia Hills region while 24 are in Garo Hills region

The voting for the Meghalaya assembly polls began today across 3,419 stations for the 60 assembly seats.

The counting of the votes for the state will take place on March 2. (File image)

Of the 60 assembly constituencies in Meghalaya, 36 fall in Khasi, Jaintia Hills region while 24 are in Garo Hills region.

Here are few key takeaways from the election campaign from the northeastern state.

BJP’s show of strength

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, union home minister Amit Shah, party president JP Nadda and Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma held rallies across the state. PM Modi held a roadshow in Shillong on Friday which saw a huge turnout.

Meghalaya BJP chief Ernest Mawrie on Thursday claimed there will no restrictions on beef consumption if the party came to power adding that he himself eats beef.

Also Read:‘I eat beef too…it’s lifestyle in Meghalaya’: State BJP chief ahead of election

Mawrie called beef-eating a “lifestyle” of the people there which “cannot be stopped by anyone”. “I cannot make a statement on the resolution adopted by other states. We are in Meghalaya, everybody eats beef, and there is no restriction. Yes, I eat beef too. There is no ban in Meghalaya. It is the lifestyle of the people, no one can stop it. There is no such rule in India also. Some states have passed some acts. In Meghalaya, we have a slaughterhouse, where everybody takes a cow or pig and brings it to the market. It could be a hygienic one. So, the people have the habit,” Mawrie was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.

Rahul Gandhi hits out at TMC

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi made a veiled attacks on the TMC on Wednesday at a rally in Meghalaya, accusing the Mamata Banerjee-led TMC of helping the BJP win the Goa elections last year and that the same was planned for Meghalaya too. Gandhi during his address, had promised to protect the culture, languages and traditions of the people of Meghalaya while alleging that the same would be under threat if the BJP came to power. Congress leader Sachin Pilot who was also in Shillong for the campaign, had accused the BJP and NPP of their involvement in ‘politics of manoeuvering’ in Meghalaya to stay in power and not actually doing anything to promote development in the state.

TMC trying to make inroads

TMC is striving hard to expand outside of Bengal and is also the main opposition in Meghalaya. TMC accused the BJP and the NPP during their campaigning for working in partnership while TMC MP Mahua Moitra alerted people to not fall for this ‘trap’. West Bengal CM and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee were also present during the campaigning.

An upbeat Meghalaya CM Conrad Sangma

NPP chief and Meghalaya chief minister Conrad Sangma who is banking on the legacy of his father, former Lok Sabha Speaker Purno Agitok Sangma said the party will have a clear victory in the assembly elections adding that the TMC and Congress had failed in the state. In the last leg of the NPP campaign in Garo Hills, Conrad attacked TMC leader and former Meghalaya CM Mukul Sangma, calling him a “dictatorial leader” representing a “party from outside the state”. The NPP during their campaign also hit out at the BJP with the long-pending issue of demanding an inner line permit (ILP) for Meghalaya.

The state’ chief minister Sangma-led National People’s Party (NPP) decided to fight polls alone this time around.

The Meghalaya Trinamool Congress (TMC), on the other hand, is contesting on 58 seats.

The Congress which had emerged as the largest single party in the 2021 assembly elections was however ousted from its position as the principal opposition after an overnight coup when former CM Mukul Sangma joined the TMC with 12 of his party’s 17 MLAs, is contesting on all 60 seats this year.

As many as 369 candidates are in fray of which 36 are women and 44 are contesting as independents.

The counting of the votes for the state will take place on March 2.

The campaigning for the state elections culminated in February 25.

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