Election campaigns in Meghalaya and the public meetings that are invariable part of these cxampaigns have always been an interesting treat, be it the debate of all the candidates within the constituency, or the media trial of political parties, being the only medium for the general masses to be enlightened about the central and state government schemes and project which are not implemented. While the aspiring candidates seeking the mandate of the electorate with an assurance to perform, however, most of such meetings hardly swing votes, as most of the electorate are diehard followers who will seldom change their political affiliation. This time, most of the candidates will have to justify to the voters why they have shifted to other camps to seek re-election.
Almost all the political parties – Indian National Congress (Cong), Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), National People’s Party (NPP), Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), United Democratic Party (UDP), Hill State People’s Democratic Party (HSPDP), Khun Hynniewtrep National Awakening Movement (KHNAM), the new political party - People’s Democratic Front (PDF) all have their own cadre besides the newly inducted members from the other political outfits.
In the 2018 elections, the Congress party will justify the incompletion of various schemes by accusing the Central - BJP led government of trying to impose an ‘economic blockade’ on Meghalaya, and now is trying to lure the sitting MLAs in the name of Change. The Chief Minister, Dr Mukul M Sangma had already accused the deserter MLAs from Congress a non - performers, strangely no more highlighting them as dissidents or rebels, who opposed his leadership, where the hierarchy of the Congress is difficult to overlook.
The BJP, while seeking vote to Change meanwhile has assured the beef lovers of the state that their eating habits will not be affected, at the sametime assuring that they will revoke the National Green Tribunal blanket ban on unscientific rat-hole coal mining in the state. BJP failed to win a single seat in the 2013 Assembly Elections even though in the past it had charismatic impact in the Floor of the House through the party representative – Late Thrang Hok Rangad who was Former State Home Minister representing Laban Constituency and Alexander Laloo Hek, who left the BJP to join Congress and was then re-elected through a Congress ticket. Hek has returned to the camp to seek his re-election again on a BJP ticket and has been sitting on the fence for over two years observing the political changes in the state.
NPP, perhaps the first party which has uploaded its manifesto online- Mission 2018 NPP for new Meghalaya as the tagline will only contest in 50 of the 60 seats claiming that this is a part of its strategy. The party had also admitted that various members from different camps will have to work hard to retain the ideologies of Strong man of Garo Hills- Purno Agitok Sangma, who is also the face of the party’s poster besides the National President - Conrad K Sangma.
The NCP, which is still existing in the state of Meghalaya has expelled its state President and sitting South Shillong MLA Sanbor Shullai who now will seek re-election through BJP ticket. This party is still organizing its grass roots and during the 2013 general election, the High Command in the centre is said to have ignored the state and failed to provide the Party election fund. This time with an entirely new makeover, it will have to first convince the Central body then organize the activists.
The regional parties are not seeking votes as a Meghalaya People’s Front (MPF) but individually, knowing well, as has been seen in the past that they are Kingmakers in formation of the government. Like the Independents, representatives from regional parties have always played the main role for the coalition whenever there is a hung assembly.
Under such confusion, the political parties are yet to seek the mandate from their respective constituency, or to draft their respective manifestoes. The electorate will be forced to make a last minute decision before casting their vote, because as of now many will change uniform (Political Party), meaning, the upcoming election will mainly be based on individual charisma and not on mandate. It also means the next session too will not deliver much as Meghalaya moves into its 50th (Golden) statehood year.
It is expected that while justifying their stands to change the uniform, in most cases they claim to be the wishes of the supporters, aspiring candidates will be accusing the other political parties or the leadership. Such mud slashing is in store this time for the public meetings during the election campaign while the masses will be once again mute spectators as the candidates claim to be the mandate of the grass root. The election heat has already picked up even before the Chief Election Commission of India announces the poll date.