Meghalaya results: Alliance was the only way for regional parties against Congress
A surprising this time is the rise of the National People’s Party (NPP) formed by the late PA Sangma in 2013 before the Presidential elections. The NPP had only two MLAs in the last assembly and has now taken the tally to 19.Updated: Mar 04, 2018 07:36 IST
The day of reckoning is over. That Meghalaya would have a hung assembly was a no-brainer — journalists knew it and predicted it.
Meghalaya has voted according to form. Only in the first state elections in 1972 did the All Party Hill Leaders’ Conference (APHLC) get an absolute majority with 32 out of 60 seats.
In after every election thereafter, the Congress was able to break the regional forces after the elections.
What is surprising this time is the rise of the National People’s Party (NPP) formed by the late PA Sangma in 2013 before the presidential elections. The NPP had only two MLAs in the last assembly and has now taken the tally to 19. The Congress won 29 seats in 2013. What might have rocked the Congress boat is the assassination of the NCP candidate from Williamnagar, Jonathone N Sangma, on February 18. It is still not clear who killed Jonathone, although the blame went to the Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA). But the posters spattered with blood and the bullets that were put up across the constituency warning people not to vote for him did not have the sign and seal of the GNLA.
Then, barely a week later, Sohan Shira, the dreaded GNLA chief, was gunned down mysteriously. An insurgent who had mastered the art of evading arrest, the heavily guarded Shira was shot at point-blank range without the sign of an encounter on February 24. The issue was pushed to the back-burner because of the elections but the NPP has demanded an NIA investigation into Jonathone’s death.
There are strong suspicions that this is a poll-related rivalry since it is the second time that Sangma was threatened. He was warned in 2013 to pull out of the race and had filed an FIR naming one of his political adversaries. The Congress has dispatched some of its leading lights, Ahmed Patel and Kamal Nath, to Shillong to ensure the BJP does not pull the rug from under its feet like it did in Goa and Manipur. It remains to be seen if the NPP can get its act together and bring the regional parties to work with it. The BJP has also lent its weight to the NPP although there was no pre-poll alliance. The NPP did this mainly due to allegations that the BJP is an anti-Christian party that would step on our religious freedom and trample on rights to choose what to eat.
Still, the regional parties all converged on one plank — to defeat the Congress and form a non-Congress government in Meghalaya.
They know they will never have the numbers considering no regional party has a complete spread across the state, so an alliance was the only way. The UDP and HSPDP are mainly based in Khasi and Jaintia Hills. The question is: Can this coalition of the willing, comprising so many disparate forces, provide stability to Meghalaya? Hectic parleys have begun as the NPP and Congress try to gather their flock. By Monday, it should be clear as to who will be in the driving seat in Meghalaya and what role the BJP will play in who wins the race.
(The writer is editor-in-chief of The Shillong Times)