As we had predicted in the month of December last year, Meghalaya has witnessed the most fractured mandate ever since its inception. The results are as follows:
While the Congress is the single largest party, the prospects of the NPP+ forming the government are high. The NPP+ has much support and has clinched the regional parties UDP, HSPDP, PDF and independents to its side. The BJP is already its ally in Meghalaya. This would bring the tally of NPP+ to about 34 and above. As for the Congress, it has been discarded by the regional parties, however writing off the chances of the Congress forming the government at this point would be arrogant on my part. The UDP is a crucial player now and I’d go a step further to call it the actual winner. Both the NPP and Congress want the UDP on their side. UDP confirmed its support to NPP just a while ago.
The Congress party meanwhile realizing the folly it committed in the Manipur and Goa results was absolutely alert this time. All its efforts to stich an alliance however have fallen flat as the regional players loudly rejected them. Congress top brass leaders Ahmad Patel, Kamal Nath, CP Joshi among others are in Shillong. Kamal Nath went to the extent of announcing that the Congress will stake claim to Meghalaya on Saturday night itself, which it did. Last night, in its utter desperation, the Congress staked claim without any letters of support from the different parties. In what now seems to be an embarrassing situation for it, UDP has decided to go with NPP.
As for the BJP and NPP, Himanta Biswa Sharma is in Shillong and in rigorous talks with the regional players. It is purely due to his efforts that a new alliance has been stitched in such a short span of time. BJP state president Shibun Lyngdoh has stated that their party as well as NPP is in talks with regional gainers and independents and that the response from their side has been ‘positive’ so far. Conrad Sangma too is keen to stake claim to form the government in the state. Meghalaya is about to witness an anti and non-Congress government after 10 years. The BJP did not fare very well in the state and had to rest with just 2 seats. However, it is playing an all-important role in the new government formation. We can say it received a moral victory, since that’s what elections are all about these days!
If we were to discuss the mood of the state, we can safely say that the anti-incumbency factor is largely responsible for the drastic fall in the Congress’s seats. The anti-Congress sentiment is evident from the results. Securing 21 seats in a Christian, tribal dominated state will not go down well with the party. The NPP which had won just 2 seats in 2013 has risen 17 spots to secure 19 seats. The able leadership of Conrad Sangma is to be applauded for this.
The NPP gave a neck-to-neck fight to the Grand Old Party and has shaken the facade of Congress being invincible in Meghalaya. In fact, the Congress has been rejected by the Khasis of Khasi and Jaintia Hills, winning just 10 seats from these regions, while the other seats went to the NPP and regional parties!
This comes as a setback to the party which was sure of getting the Christian vote. Moreover, the NPP, which was expected to fare well only in Garo Hills region, has in fact made heavy gains in Khasi and Jaintia Hills. Meanwhile, BJP has won Pynthormukhrah and South Shillong constituencies, both in Shillong. Not winning any seats in Garo Hills comes as a huge setback to the BJP.
I expect high voltage political drama over the next two days in Shillong, now that the regional parties have declared support to the NPP and BJP. The BJP has appointed Kiren Rijiju and KJ Alphons as central observers to the state. The actual game will begin after the much awaited UDP meeting here on Sunday. Kiren Rijiju is meeting the UDP chief at his residence along with Himanta Biswa Sharma.
If not anything else, the Congress dispensation has been shaken by the people of Meghalaya, who have given a resounding slap to the party for its corrupt and lethargic way of functioning in the state. The healthcare, education, job market are all in shambles. The Congress must have learnt a good lesson and will realize that their bubble of Christian and tribal votes has been bursted like never before. The regional parties have realized that the people want a non-Congress government, and hence sided with the NPP. Even though the Congress was the single largest party, it has encountered the fate it did in Manipur and Goa, and this is a huge setback for the political pundits of the Congress, who were so sure of forming the government in the state.
Himanta Biswa Sharma has made this possible and deserves a round of applause!
Also, Congress was too late in Goa, and too early in Meghalaya. In both cases, it had to return emptyhanded.