Code of Conduct imposed, Meghalaya yet to pickup election fever

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Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora

It’s official. Meghalaya will be casting the vote in Phase 1 on April 11, 2019 to elect two representatives to the 17th Lok Sabha. The Code of Conduct was imposed at about 5:15pm, the moment Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora announced the date in traditional Press Conference on Sunday. Unlike the election to the 16th Lok Sabha, where compendium of Instructions on Paid News and Related Matters (February-2014) was issued by Election Commission of India, this time the issue is the Social Media and its impact in India.

Calling the Indian parliamentary battle the ‘largest festival of democracy’, Arora said that 91 constituencies (spread across 20 states) will see polling on April 11, 97 constituencies (13 states) on April 18, 115 (14) on April 23, 71 (9) on April 29, 51 (7) on May 6, 59 (also 7) on May 12 and 59 constituencies (8 states) on May 19 and the votes will be counted on May 23.

In Meghalaya, most of the political parties are yet to announce the official candidate. The Ruling Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) led by National People’s Party (NPP) headed by Conrad Kongkal Sangma is finding it difficult to finalize the common candidate. However, with the Code of Conduct in place, the coalition partners will now have to speed up their decision on a common candidate.

Within a month the qualified electorates are to take decision on which public representative they would like to send to Parliament. All they have are the public meetings of all political parties including Regional Parties who are spelling out their respective manifestos.

In most cases, all public meetings – be it at national or state level – are repetitive speeches, because one slight statement or words could make or break the prospect of the candidate.

This time a fractured mandate is expected. In the North Eastern Region, including Meghalaya, the contentious Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2016, will surely dominate the election campaigns. This has actually superseded issues like Demonetization, Goods and Services Tax (GST), Ram Temple issues or Rafale deals.

Besides Citizenship Amendment Bill, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance government once again needs to justify their saffronized outlook, as the last Assembly Election in the region were not very encouraging.

Both the two representatives from Meghalaya will need to spell out their visions on how to resume the coal mining in the state, which has been banned, issued by National Green Tribunal (NGT) since April 17, 2014.

The 47-year-old Meghalaya continues to send the Parliamentarians to Lok Sabha along with the mandates to improved Health Care, supply of Drinking water and improvement of Highways and bye-lanes, unlike other states which have moved far ahead speaking about policy and national security.

This time, the Citizenship Amendment Bill saw most regional parties uniting to fight against the bill as well as rally support in New Delhi for the voices from the region to be heard in the Parliament. Therefore, not many candidates are expected to be in the fray from the region as most parties, especially the regional parties, are expected to field common candidates to contest candidates from BJP and Congress.

The Mahagathbandhan of political parties from North East is different from the so called Main Stream politics. Here, the Regional and National parties will not hesitate to come together only to enable the voices (25 Lok Sabha seats) from the region to be heard in the Parliament, more than aiming at forming the government in the centre like the rest of the states. Hence, the fever from this region is slow in picking up compared to the mainland politics.