Now that the fun and frolic is over and the festive spirit is beginning to die down in Meghalaya; the serious task of state building through election is picking up pace. The festive spirit in Meghalaya which begin with the advent of Christmas celebration technically end with the beginning of the New Year, but the celebration in various shapes and forms continue till the onset of summer. But this time with the election to the state assembly in the offing, the celebration takes a new twist and turn at least till the result is declared.
This time around the National People’s Party received a New Year gift quite early, when the five Congress, two independents and one United Democratic Party (UDP) MLA tendered their resignation letter of December 29 and formally joined the party on the same day. Although it is rather expected and it has been talk of the state for more than two months that the MLAs are going to defect to the NPP and the resignation and the joining of the new party is just a formality; yet it cannot be deny that it is a shot in the arm for the NPP which hopes to be a front runner to lead the coalition government after the election.
The eight MLAs who has resigned from their membership in the assembly and formally resigned from their respective parties are– Rowell Lyngdoh (Mawkyrwat), Prestone Tynsong (Pynursla), Sniawbhalang Dhar (Nartiang), Ngaitlang Dhar (Umroi) and Commingone Ymbon all former Congress’ legislators, the Independent MLAs are Hopeful Bamon (Sutnga Saipung) and Stephanson Mukhim (Amlarem) and the lone UDP MLA who defected from the regional party is Remington Pyngrope (Mawkynrew).
The Bharatiya Janata Paty camp also received its own share of good news in the poll-bound state of Meghalaya; when on the New Year day four MLAs; AL Hek (Pynthor) from the Congress, Sanbor Shullai (Shillong South) former President of the Nationalist Congress Party, and two Independent MLAs from Jaintia Hills, Justine Dkhar (Khliehriat) and Robinus Syngkong (Mowkaiaw) resigned their membership to the house and formally joined the party. But earlier to the major development the BJP was able to rope in former MLAs in the Garo hills region of the state who formally joined the party on December 29.
The four former MLAs who joined the saffron party in the Garo hills are former NPP and Tura MLA Billykid A Sangma, former Rangsakona legislator Adulf Lu Hitler, Omillo Sangma, former MLA of Kharkutta and John Manner Marak ex-MLA of Bajengdoba. Considering the recent development; it looks like the BJP is well poised to make a mark in the upcoming election to the Meghalaya state assembly in the beginning of this year.
The BJP will however face some challenges in some constituencies; because the candidates who have earlier joined the party and projected themselves as the potential candidates will have to make way for the incumbent legislators who have recently joined the party. The most prominent BJP member who has also visited the area to canvass as BJP candidate from Shillong South is Manas Choudhuri; also a former cabinet minister and former editor of the Shillong Times. The joining of Sanbor Shullai who is his bête noire is a setback for Chaudhuri who was expecting to contest the ensuing election on a BJP ticket.
In the Jaintia hills region; the lone female Member of the Jaintia Hills Autonomous District Council (JHADC) Violet Lyngdoh and cousin of BJP state President Shibun Lyngdoh has also been canvassing in the area and projected herself as the potential BJP candidate from Khliehriat constituency, but now she will have to make way for the incumbent MLA Justine Dkhar. In the same way; in Mowkaiaw constituency ECB Bamon former minister and vice President of NPP has also projected himself as the potential candidate of the BJP from the area but the joining of the Independent MLA Robinus Syngkon to the BJP will spoil his chance of getting the party ticket.
The joining of the MLAs to the BJP could be a blessing as well a curse for the party; it could be a blessing if the members of the party who have projected themselves as candidates remain in the party fold but since there is no dirt of political parties in Meghalaya now, if they decided to join other parties to contest the election then it will be a setback for the BJP in the area. The BJP will have to take a good care of its flock, if they are to win few seats to the state assembly.
(Mohrmen is a freelance writer and environment activist based in Jowai, Meghalaya. He can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org)