SHILLONG, March 03: The Congress party has emerged out of the 2018 Assembly elections in Meghalaya as the single largest party by winning 21 out of the 59 seats that were up for grabs.
Opposition National People’s Party (NPP), an NDA ally at the Centre, which earlier had only two MLAs in the 60-House member, followed closely behind the long-ruling Congress party in as many as 19 seats.
However, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) could secure only two seats of the 47 they contested despite aggressive campaigning by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP chief Amit Shah and other central ministers.
Chief Minister, Dr. Mukul Sangma won from both the seats – Ampati and Songsak with comfortable margins.
Dr. Sangma retained his home constituency by defeating his closest rival Bakul Ch Hajong of the BJP by a huge margin of 8104 and also defeating NPP sitting MLA of Songsak Nihim D Shira by a margin of only 1830 despite predictions that he would lose in both the seats.
His wife and brother also managed to retain their seats in Mahendraganj and Rangsakona respectively.
While Dikkanchi D Shira defeated BJP’s Premananda Koch by a huge margin of 7861 votes, Zenith Sangma, also a cabinet minister also defeated his rival Subir M Marak of the NPP by a margin of 1977 votes.
In a setback to the regional political parties like United Democratic Party (UDP), Hill State People Democratic Party (HSPDP) which had forged a pre-poll alliance in 36 seats in Khasi Hills region, most of their sitting legislators lost to new faces and first timers.
The UDP won only six seats while its alliance partner HSPDP got only two seats.
Of the eight MLAs the UDP had earlier, only it’s Chief Donkupar Roy, who is also leader of opposition, Metbah Lyngdoh and Brolding Nongsiej could retain their seats in Shella, Mairang and Mawthadraishan respectively.
The HSPDP on the other hand suffered a major blow when all its four MLAs including the party president Ardent Miller Basaiawmoit failed to retain their seats.
On the other hand, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), a former ally of the Congress, which fielded candidates in 20 seats, could only win in one seat. NCP state chief Saleng A Sangma retained the Gambegre seat defeating Congress nominee Sadhiarani M Sangma, wife of cabinet minister Zenith Sangma by a margin of only 105 votes.
While the People’s Democratic Front (PDF), a newly floated party got four of 26 seats it contested, the Khun Hynniewtrep National Awakening Movement (KHNAM) got one seat. Only 3 of 80 Independents who contested the Assembly elections emerged victorious.
Some of the prominent faces who won the elections also include cabinet ministers – MM Danggo from Ranikor constituency and Ampareen Lyngdoh from East Shillong constituency.
Danggo defeated UDP’s Pius Marwein by a margin of 2002 votes while Ampareen defeated BJP’s Neil Antonio War by a margin of 6074 votes.
Former health minister AL Hek and former Assembly deputy speaker Sanbor Shullai, who both contested from the BJP, also managed to retain their seats in Pynthorumkhrah and South Shillong respectively.
Hek defeated PDF sitting MDC James Ban Basaiawmoit by a margin of 1418, while Shullai defeated Congress candidate Manas Chaudhuri by a margin of 5097.
Others who retained their seats also include 3 former cabinet ministers who are now NPP leaders – Prestone Tynsong from Pynursla, Sniawbhalang Dhar from Nartiang and Comingone Ymbon from Raliang.
Former Tura MP and NPP leader Agatha K Sangma also made her come back when she defeated BJP’s Billykid A Sangma, a former MLA by a margin of 1603 votes. Her brother, James K Sangma also retained his Dadenggre seat by defeating Rupa M Marak of the Congress by 2753 votes.
Of the total 32 female candidates, only Ampareen and Agatha were elected to the 60 member House.
Meanwhile the former bureaucrats who won the elections include Synstar Klas Sunn, a retired chief engineer of PHE department and Himalayan Muktan Shangpliang, who was a former IAS officer.
Sunn, who contested as an independent, defeated sitting Congress MLA of Mawphlang constituency Kennedy Khriem by a margin of 718 votes while Shangpliang defeated PDF leader and former Mawsynram MLA Pynshngainlang N Syiem by a margin of 794 votes.