The outcome of election to the House’s highest post – Speaker is always considered as the Trial of Strength for the government in power. The Meghalaya Assembly Speaker election with two contenders- Former Chief Minister Dr Donkupar Roy of the ruling Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) government and Opposition Congress legislator Winnerson D. Sangma, is scheduled on March 12, 2018 and is also the acid test for the new Chief Minister Conrad Kongkal Sangma, who is under fire for his alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in his Cabinet. Even the general masses are expressing their hostility via the social network.
It may be mentioned that the former president of Hill State People’s Democratic Party (HSPDP), Ardent Miller Basaiawmoit, who lost by just 76 votes to Lambor Malngiang (Ind) in Nongkrem constituency on March 5, 2018 just a day before the swearing in ceremony held a Press Conference, expressing his party’s unhappiness with the decision of the Regional ally - the United Democratic Party (UDP) to project NPP Chief Conrad as the next Chief Minister of Meghalaya, whereas, Prestone Tynsong was earlier projected as the CM candidate by the NPP prior to election. When his party Legislators were inducted into the cabinet, he resigned as the Party Chief.
Basaiawmoit also reminded that throughout the election campaigns, they were seeking the mandate of the people with the assurances that there will be a Non- Congress and Non- BJP government. Hence, if the BJP is the alliance to the proposed government, his Legislators will withdraw their support.
Few days back the President of People’s Democratic Front (PDF), Pynshngain N Syiem, former Congress legislator, who was projected as Chief Ministerial candidate in the 2018 state Assembly elections lost to Congress candidate, HM Shangpliang, former state bureaucrat in Mawsynram constituency, has also threatened withdrawal of support to MDA, if the BJP legislators interferer into traditional practices of cultural activities.
Conrad led MDA is a six party coalition includes 19 members from National People’s Party (NPP), six from UDP, four from the PDM, two each from HSPDP and the BJP, one from the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) besides two Independents.
The Congress won 21 seats but physically it has only 20 members in the House since the former Chief Minister Dr Mukul Sangma got elected from two seats: Ampati and Songsak.
Lone Khun Hyniewtrep National Awakening Movement (KHNAM) MLA Adelbert Nongrum and another Independent, S.K. Sun, are yet to declare their support to any of the two candidates.
The formation of the MDA was possible when the UDP declined to forge alliance with the Congress who emerged as the largest party in the hung verdict, and according to Assam Finance Minister Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma, former Congress Leader, who is also NEDA Convener and was responsible for the formation of Non Congress government in Meghalaya, was once the best friend of Dr Mukul M Sangma, clarified that the representation of the coalition to Conrad cabinet will be in the ration of Two is to One (2:1), hence one cabinet post was given to AL Hek, as he was elected as the leader of state BJP Legislative Party.
According to the masses, via the social networking sites, expressed that if the newly elected Chief Minister, whose very first friction came to visibility few days back when the coalition partner PDF threatened to withdraw support mainly because of BJP phobia in Meghalaya, it would be for the best of interest and stability of the MDA, if the two members of the saffron party extend outside support to the government, otherwise this will be one of the main factors for the fall of the ruling MDA government.
Although the Whip were given to support the MDA candidate – Dr Roy as Speaker for March 12 trust vote in secret ballot election, if any cross voting is done, it will be purely as protest against inclusion of BJP in the cabinet.
Conrad, who has six months to get himself elected to the Legislative Assembly, is likely to face the contest from former Chief Minister Dr Mukul M Sangma’s daughter- Miani D Shira. She is trying to retain the Ampati assembly constituency her father expected to vacate in the upcoming Bye-election. Dr Sangma represented Ampati as the Chief Minister, this time he also won from Songsak assembly constituency.
It is also learnt that Agatha Kongkal Sangma, sister of Conrad, might vacate her South Tura constituency for him and she will go back to contest the bye-election of Tura Parliamentary Lok Sabha constituency, which her brother will have to vacate.
But all these political activities will take place after the March 12 Speaker election.