The March 3 hung verdict for Meghalaya has put the state into the limelight once again, where the party with single majority along with the runners up has the least to say when it come to staking claim to form government, but the Kingmaker is always the smaller parties and the Independent candidates, resulting to horse trading. Well versed with Meghalaya Politics, Assam Finance Minister Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma, who is also NEDA Convener, was given full charge to see that Non – Congress entities form the next government in the Hills state. Since Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) got just two Members of Legislative Assembly, they have very little say, however, Himanta successfully played his role as facilitator managed to win over the Regional party - United Democratic Party (UDP) with six members as coalition partner of National People’s Party (NPP) with 19 MLAs as the substitution for the Congress Government, who had earlier staked claim to form the new government in Meghalaya.
NPP, who is an alliance partner of National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in the Centre with its National President, Conrad K Sangma, who is the sitting Member of Parliament representing Tura Lok Sabha Constituency is also the associated with North-East Democratic Alliance or NEDA, a political coalition that was formed on May 24, 2016 by Bharatiya Janata Party along with Regional Political parties like Naga People’s Front, Sikkim Democratic Front, People’s Party of Arunachal, Asom Gana Parishad and Bodoland People’s Front in Northeast.
Late afternoon of March 4, 2018 Dr. Mukul M Sangma tendered his resignation as the Chief Minister, had earlier along with Senior Congress leaders Ahmed Patel and Kamal Nath, who was rushed to Meghalaya immediately after the announcement of Election result, preventing BJP to highjack the power as done in Goa and Manipur, hence on March 3, met Meghalaya Governor Ganga Prasad requesting him to invite the Congress to form the new government in Meghalaya, being the single largest party with 21 MLAs, and assured will prove their strength on the Floor of the House.
UDP, who signed pre-poll alliance with Hill State People’s Democratic Party (HSPDP) having two MLAs, was in coalition with the Congress in the 8th Session of the Assembly, but was latter split, forcing the Regional Party to sit on the Opposition Bench, and the last session too was in the Opposition, wanted to equalize with the Congress have extended their support to NPP. The announcement was made by the party Working President, Paul Lyngdoh who lost his constituency to Congress candidate- Mohendro Rapsang in West Shillong Assembly seat, while the senior Congress leader deputed by AICC was still in the official residence of Dr Donkupar Roy negotiating for the support.
On the other hand, State Congress was hesitant to seek support of People’s Democratic Front (PDF), with four MLAs, as the party Chief- Pynshngain N Syiem was former Congress Leader who defied the party decision to resign on Dual Post, was latter suspended from the party; he lost his Mawsynram Assembly seat to the new entrant – H M Shangpliang (Congress). Syiem too is head-bend not to allow the Congress to form the next government, will willingly join the Bandwagon of NPP-BJP led government.
According to the fragmented verdict of March 3, Congress managed to secure 21 seats, which is seven seats deficit from 2013 result, and 10 seats less to reach the half way mark to form the government. This time Congress faced defeat in Garo Hills gaining just 10 seats this time, and the remaining 11 seats from Khasi- Jaintia Hills. It is said to have been affected after the assassination of most dreaded Self Styled Commander-in-Chief of Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA), Sohan Dalbot Shira on the last day of campaigning by the brave action of Special Force (SF-10) Commandos.
While NPP alone secured 19 seats, gaining 17 more seats from the 2013 result, is said to be the political party to have performed the best in February 27 poll. As stated Congress’ loss is NPP’s gain in Garo Hills, the party secured 11 seats, from Khasi-Jaintia hills it managed with 8 seats. Hence the Chief Ministerial Candidate - Prestone Tynsong, who won from Pynursla assembly seat, and also the former Congress Leader, seems to be making his sacrifice as one of the conditions of the UDP is to elect Conrad K Sangma as the coalition Leader of the Legislative Party. Conrad is expected to seek election from one of the seat Mukul will be giving up, or from the Williamnagar Assembly seat, while NPP are also considering to tip Agatha Kongkal Sangma, who won from South Tura assembly constituency as the first Woman Chief Minister of Meghalaya. She had earlier won hearts as the youngest Member of Parliament in the 15th Lok Sabha. She represented the Tura constituency as a candidate of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). She was the youngest Minister of State in the UPA-II’s Dr Manmohan Singh Cabinet as Minister of State for Rural Development.
Meanwhile, the Congress is remaining silent over all the political activities. The outgoing Chief Minister Dr Sangma has been working out all formulas to retain power, with the assistance of the AICC representatives. But as usual, the miscommunication between the Central leaders and the state is said to have cost the casualty of losing power to the Non-Congress parties.
On the other hand, the NPP-BJP led coalition on March 4, even being Sunday, was seen parading their MLAs with signed letter of support to stake claim for forming the next government under the supervision of Big Wigs of BJP who are camping in Meghalaya only to prove that all the three states of North East - Tripura, Nagaland and Meghalaya have its representative in the Government. Himanta, who is well known to have instrumented the toppling of Dr D D Lapang government in October 2010, only to install the government for Dr Mukul M Sangma is now all out to put Mukul out of power to put another Sangma (Conrad) in the Chair.
Meghalaya for the coming few days will continue to hit the national headlines till a stable government is formed. As of now Non - Congress parties are a step ahead, but Meghalaya is well known as one of the fastest state in changing the Chief Minister, with an average of just 2 years term in the office. While Dr Sangma not only created the record of being the second Chief Minister to complete the full term, but the longest serving one with seven years in office.