Congress single largest in Meghalaya, but NPP could cobble up the numbers to rule
The Assembly will be a fairly young one with five of the winners below the age of 30, while there are just two who are in their 60s. Women made up three of the 59 winners.Meghalaya Elections 2018 Updated: Mar 03, 2018 23:33 IST
With the assembly elections in Meghalaya throwing up a hung House on Saturday, the ruling Congress which won 21 seats (down from 30) and the NPP which moved from two seats to 19 are scrambling to form a government.
After an absence of five years, the BJP will return to the house with two MLAs – AL Hek and Sanbor Shullai. The saffron party increased its share of the popular vote from 1.27 percent to 9.6. Both the victories came in cosmopolitan areas of Shillong while the party failed completely in the Garo Hills.
Elections were held in 59 of the 60 assembly seats.
Intense discussions to form a coalition are currently underway. Top Congress leaders Ahmed Patel, Kamal Nath, Mukul Wasnik and AICC general secretary in charge of Meghalaya CP Joshi have rushed to Shillong to try and save one of the last Congress governments in the northeast.
The incoming Assembly will have a very different look to the outgoing one. More than half of the sitting MLAs (36) who were seeking re-election lost their seats, including Speaker AT Mondal, urban affairs minister Ronnie Lyngdoh and home minister HDR Lyngdoh. There were also a spate of high profile defeats among top opposition politicians, like former Congressman Rowell Lyngdoh, who switched to the NPP, HSPDP leader Ardent Basaiawmoit, UDP working presidents Paul Lyngdoh and Jemino Mawthoh and PDF leader Pynshngainlang Syiem.
There were no worries, however, for Congress candidates chief minister Dr Mukul Sangma, his wife Dikkanchi Shira and cabinet minister Ampareen Lyngdoh, who were among seven contestants who won with more than 50 per cent of the vote in their respective constituencies.
The Assembly will also be a fairly young one with five of the winners below the age of 30, while there are just two who are in their 60s. Women made up three of the 59 winners, roughly level with the 2013 figure. Nearly 14,500 voters rejected the politicians on the ballot and went for the NOTA option on polling day.
The Congress, which polled 34.78 per cent in 2013 dropped its vote share to 28.5 per cent. The NPP’s vote share went up from 8.81 to 20.6 per cent. The UDP and other regional parties, for their part, failed to make much headway, though the newly-formed PDF bagged four seats.
The NPP must be the happiest of the lot rocketing to second place with a strong shot at running the state if they can cobble together a coalition. James Sangma retained the Daddengre seat while his sister and former Union minister of state Agatha Sangma won from South Tura with a narrow margin.
These were significant victories for the Sangma family, coming one day before the second death anniversary of their patriarch Purno A Sangma, a former Lok Sabha Speaker who was by far Meghalaya’s best known politician.
NPP national president and James’ and Agatha’s brother Conrad Sangma said that his party is already in talks with likeminded outfits in order to form a non-Congress coalition government. James, meanwhile, said that the results show that the people of Meghalaya were “voting for change”.
Shillong MP and working president of the state Congress committee Vincent Pala, however, maintained a positive tone, saying that his party will lead the next government, while outgoing chief minister Mukul Sangma said that his party will look to form a non-BJP and secular coalition.