Shillong: Meghalaya politics is at crossroads. No one knows the future course and poll outcome, and no party will be able to manage a majority of its own in the 60-member assembly or even manage 20 seats on its own.
The world of politics in Meghalaya will soon step into 2023, and the state with a Christian majority population is heading towards polls. Still, the outcome seems uncertain regarding a clear mandate.
In all probability, Meghalaya may get a fractured mandate and a fiercely divided assembly.
The Congress, which fought hard and won 21 seats, must have as many winning candidates as possible this time. To touch double digits may be a Mission Impossible. In the Khasi belt, which has 36 seats, the UDP as a regional party picked up at least seven seats in 2018. This party has massive scope for growth, but infighting is the maximum.
Congress ticket aspirant from Shillong East Manuel Badwar says, “what is wrong with our state let’s be clear about it. We are lacking in education, healthcare and economic development. So these factors will harm NPP severely for all their omissions and commissions”.
The ground zero situation and a weakened NPP under Chief Minister Conrad Sangma should otherwise make things easier for UDP. But infighting is enormous.
“We are suffering from crab syndrome. It is worse than cancer or even the Corona in an election season. But our leaders do not understand the futility of mutual confrontation,” said a UDP booth worker in Shillong.
His reference is to the cold war between a few top UDP leaders. UDP vice president Allantry F Dkhar said that party leader Bindo M Lanong Lyngdoh should be happier working as an adviser and that “It is not necessary for every leader to contest elections”.
On the other, if the Congress and the Trinamool Congress are confined to less than ten, something that looks most likely the lady luck may shine on BJP candidates, provided all cards are played well.
“Our rivals had tried to play up Chritian card against BJP. But the fact of the matter is other than this religious polarisation attempt, our detractors have no solid ground to oppose BJP. So we are getting a huge advantage as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Development Mission will be the Chief tool to garner votes,” says K Kharkrang, a former IPS officer and a BJP ticket aspirant from Shillong North.
Analysts say under the given situation, the BJP may easily touch 12 to 15 seats if the campaign juggernaut, backed by some good shows by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other vote catchers, is tried with proper planning. They also say there will be a vast vacant slot of around 15 seats, and there would also be a massive dependency on Independents and more minor parties such as HSPDP and the newly floated VPP.
Moreover, NPP’s overconfidence, punctuated with huge arrogance, is making analysts argue that there is a 70 per cent chance of a hung assembly.
Conrad, son of former Lok Sabha Speaker PA Sangma, is again a Chief player in Garo hills, where he will face a tough challenge from Mukul Sangma, a former CM and Trinamool leader.
Conrad depended on Khasi leaders such as Ampareen Lyngdoh and three other Congress legislators who defied party orders and backed the Conrad Sangma government.
Now, a day after PM Modi’s Shillong visit on December 18, wherein he showcased developmental schemes, two former Congress MLAs joined NPP. But the best NPP supporters and fan following of the P A Sangma family cannot deny s intense anti-incumbency mood.
On questions and issues about development-related matters in Meghalaya and how these have surfaced in this year’s elections, one educationist in Nongpoh township says, “Today, I regret to state that last five years have been worst five years in the history of Meghalaya’s development journey. Thanks to Conrad regimes corruption”.
He said there is thus a “deep anger” among citizens against the Conrad Sangma government chiefly for misgovernance and corruption. The regime is also alleged to have been responsible for promoting nepotism. Charles Kyndiah in Shillong says, “Last five years have seen the destruction of the Shillong city. All these have happened due to a combination of reasons”. The NPP definition of development is the Development of party (NPP) leaders and their kind.
Businessman Shyam Gogoi in Shillong East says, “It is like the government is at war with the citizens instead of being responsible to the citizens. Thus, many people will surprise everyone, including media and political parties, and thus help the saffron party in the long run”.