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BJP-backed alliance set to rule Meghalaya, Conrad Sangma to be chief minister

The alliance formation in favour of Conrad Sangma dealt a blow to the Congress, which won 21 seats and emerged as the single largest party after the results threw up a hung assembly.

Meghalaya Elections 2018 Updated: Mar 04, 2018 23:04 IST
David Laitphlang
David Laitphlang
Hindustan Times, Shillong
Conrad Sangma,Meghalaya government,Meghalaya chief minister
NPP national president Conrad Sangma hands over a letter of support of MLAs to Meghalaya governor Ganga Prasad at Raj Bhawan in Shillong on Sunday.(HT Photo)

National People’s Party (NPP) leader Conrad Sangma is set to be sworn in as the next Meghalaya chief minister on Tuesday with support from the BJP and regional players, ending the uncertainty over who will rule the state after the February assembly polls didn’t give a clear majority to any party.

The NPP, founded by former Lok Sabha speaker PA Sangma, won 19 seats in results declared on Saturday, the United Democratic Party got six, the People’s Democratic Front got four, the Hill State Peoples Democratic Party and the BJP secured two apiece in the 60-member House.

Among the three Independent legislators, Samuel Sangma is said to have declared his support on Sunday to the 39-year-old NPP leader — one of the three children of PA Sangma active in politics.

Conrad Sangma met governor Ganga Prasad on Sunday evening and staked claim to form the government. He handed a letter of support from 34 MLAs to the governor and his swearing-in is set for Tuesday, said a politician who asked not be named.

The move puts the BJP in power in effectively six of the seven Northeastern states, barring Mizoram, the lone state where the Congress is in power. The Congress, which was ruling Meghalaya, won 21 seats to emerge as the single-largest party, but couldn’t gather the required numbers to retain power.

The Congress had failed to form governments in Goa and Manipur despite emerging as the single-largest party in both assemblies after elections last year. The BJP came to power in both states with the help of smaller parties and Independents.

Senior BJP leaders KJ Alphons, Nalin Kohli, and the party strategist and Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma accompanied Conrad Sangma to the Raj Bhavan in Shillong.

“The letters of support that have been received from the UDP, PDF, HSPDP and BJP have mentioned that they will support a government led by me, Conrad Sangma, as chief minister and the NPP has also written the same letter,” Sangma said after meeting the governor.

“A name for the coalition is yet to be decided,” said the NPP national president and Lok Sabha MP for Tura. Sangma has six months to contest and win a seat in the assembly.

Shortly after the meeting with governor Prasad, Assam minister Sarma said one of the two BJP legislators will be “a part of the government”. He also stressed that there will be “no deputy chief ministers”.

Sarma took a jibe at the Congress, saying: “The number (of the alliance) is likely to go up. Rahul Gandhi sent four senior party leaders to Shillong without any calculations on government formation. I don’t see maturity in him.”

The buzz is that UDP president Donkupar Roy will get the speaker’s post. Roy told reporters earlier in the day that his party would support the NPP to form a “non-Congress” government.

Congress leader Mukul Sangma, who was chief minister for eight years, submitted his resignation to the governor and taunted the BJP for attempting to form the government with just two members.

“They want to fire from the shoulder of other political parties,” the outgoing chief minister said.

First Published: Mar 04, 2018 19:16 IST