Shillong, March 17: With national parties increasing their dominance in the state politics, which is evident from the results of the recently concluded state assembly election where Indian National Congress (INC) emerged as the largest party by winning 29 seats in the House of 60, questions are being raised if the spirit of regionalism is dying in Meghalaya as a result of the increasingly shrinking globalized world around.
Hill State People's Democratic Party (HSPDP) legislator, Ardent Miller Basaiawmoit, who retained his seat from Nongkrem constituency that has a record of not voting back its legislator twice, except for two exceptions and him becoming the only the third, feels that ‘regionalism is not dying down but the people are sad with the performance of regional parties’.
“People are upset with the way regional parties have been performing. In fact, people love regional parties but are said at their performance and stance that they have been taking from time to time,” he asserts while declaring that people of the state are not particularly favoring the national parties but are compelled to.
“It is because of compulsion. People are choosing national parties over regional parties because they have no other alternative and not on performance of national parties. They are not happy with the performance of regional parties nor do they subscribing to the idea of joining national party. But out of compulsion, they are doing this,” he opined while talking to Meghalaya Times.
Giving his insight into the failure of regional parties in the recent election, that could not even manage a double – digit figure whereas independent candidates secured 13 seats, Basaiawmoit said, “The failure of regional party is because they do not have a good party organization. They only go to the people during the election time only. After election, they never reach out to the grass root, they never organize party meetings; they are not doing well in party organization.”
However, it is lesson for the regional parties to learn. “If they learn a lesson, they will come back,” exhorts the young legislator.
“When you fail, you should not blame anyone. Introspect, look at yourself, see where you went wrong, try to be a good listener, listen to the mood of the people, feel the sense of the people, then you will get the real picture of what and where did we went wrong.,” he suggested.
HSPDP and under - Development
If there are two things that are synonymous to West Khasi Hills are the dominance of HSPDP and Under development. The people of Nongstoin, the headquarters of West Khasi Hills, have been electing HSPDP President, Hoping Stone Lyngdoh to Meghalaya Legislative Assembly for every term, right since 1972. He holds the distinction of being elected to state assembly for 11 times.
However, the district fares poorly when it comes to development.
According to his personal observation, Basaiawmoit feels that his party President has been elected consecutively to Assembly due to his ‘integrity’.
On the development front, he clarifies that it would be wrong to assume there is no development in the district. “There is lot of improvement, but if you are not in a good position or power, it will be very difficult to mobilize and bring big development in the area,” he states.
In Opposition Bench
“I am very much happy to be in the opposition. I respect the verdict of the people and we are going to play a positive and constructive role. We will fight tirelessly,” asserted the rabble-rousing Nongkrem legislator
Also, he informed that his Clean Politics Campaign (CPC) will continue this time as well since there is lot of demand. “We will have a proper plan of how do we reach out to people as there is a lot of demand in all directions,” he said.
Opposing Non – Indigenous Speaker for Meghalaya
“Do not get me wrong. Why Meghalaya was created? It is because of one issue where there was an attempt by Assam government to make Assamese the official language that our leaders felt was unacceptable. There has been a desire to maintain and to preserve our own identity,” recalls Basaiawmoit while speaking on the issue of Meghalaya having a Non – indigenous Speaker.
He asserts that it has ben the failure of the many to understand the value of ‘being special and our own identity’.
The firebrand legislators, however, clarifies that he is not against the non – indigenous people. He only opposes them occupying certain posts.
He states “because the job of the Speaker is not only to preside over the House, but to also represent (the state), attend meetings and conferences outside the state and even outside India. So what will people think of Meghalaya? Is it a tribal state?” adding “there are certain posts that I am against non – indigenous people holding.”
He shares that even in his constituency, “I straight away tell them I am not against you, you can come here do business, come for education, for healthcare, come as a tourist or any kind or any plan.”
“But I will not subscribe to the idea of giving or surrendering away the political rights to the outsiders,” he exhorts.
“India is a country of unity in diversity; it is not a country of unity in uniformity, where we have one culture, one religion. That is the beauty of India. So where do I go wrong by demanding a tribal Speaker,” he asks.
Also, for those who say they are proud to be Indians first, he says “they insult their own fathers who fought for the Hill State”.
Elaborating on which he says, “It would have been ‘ok’ to remain in Assam or yell at our own grandparents for why did you get us this state when we are ok with being Indians. Let us do away will all reservations, de-reserve all Assembly seats” adding “We cannot have this double standards. We respect you as fellow Indians and you respect us our rights also.”
Even then, Meghalaya now has a non – indigenous Speaker in the form of Congress Legislator from Phulbari AT Mondal and Basaiawmoit has to all the time address him as ‘Sir’ in the House. “I am not addressing him (Mondal), I am addressing the chair,” he affirms.