It is already obvious that the outcome of the post February 2018 election in Meghalaya is going to be a fractured mandate. No party will be able to come up with the required simple majority to be able to form the next government in the state. No matter how hard they work or how optimistic the parties are; no party will cross the halfway mark or can single-handedly garner more than 30 of the total 60 seats in the house.
The situation is already in chaos because for the first time in the history of the state; we have maximum numbers of national parties joining the fray. Apart from the major contenders like the Congress, the National People’s Party (NPP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), we also have the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), the Am Admi Party (AAP) and the Lokjan Shakti Party (LJP) which are contesting few seats in the forthcoming polls.
The case of the regional parties is no different either; there are too many regional parties than required and they are all major contender to win the elections. This is especially true in the Khasi Jaintia Hills where regional influence is still very strong. The two prominent regional parties–the Unites Democratic Party (UDP) and the HSPDP– were hoping that the pre-poll alliance will help them sail through the next elections but the problem is that other regional parties like the Khun Hynniewtrep National Movement (KHNM) and the newly formed People’s Democratic Front (PDF) will play spoilsport.
The KHNM and the PDF may not be top contenders to win many seats in the election; but it can divide the regional parties’ vote bank and prevent another regional party from winning the seat in whichever constituency it is contesting. The regional party which will greatly upset the regional alliance is the newly formed PDF, which is yet to be seen if it will have a major impact on the prospect of the regional party alliance.
The Congress’ chance of coming up with the magic number of thirty is getting farther away; the only hope for the party to win the maximum number of seat from Garo hills region. Unlike in the Khasi-Jaintia Hills region; except a few constituencies, the fight in the Garo Hills will be two way fight between the NPP and the Congress.
Now with the independent MLAs from the region joining the party, the party is hopeful that this will helps swing the chance of winning many seats from Garo Hills in favour of the Congress.
In the Khasi Jaintia region of the state; in addition to the exodus of party leaders to another party, the decision of the senior party leaders to hang their boots will have a huge impact on the party’s prospect of winning the next election. Perhaps the timing that the leaders decided to quit the election is too late which make it difficult and even impossible for the candidate who would replace the veterans to retain the seat that they have vacated.
The NPP is in euphoria after an exodus of the Congress MLAs to the party and also that the two independent candidates from Jaintia Hills who joined the party recently. For the BJP the joining of the MLAs to the party’s fold could be a blessing as well a curse to the party. The reason is because there are member of parties who have joined the party much earlier and had worked hard and project themselves as BJP candidates from the constituencies which the incumbent MLAs represent. The recent joining of the MLAs has abruptly disrupted the arrangement. If the potential BJP candidates decided to support the MLAs; then it is well and good for the party. But if they quit the party and contest the election on another party’s ticket then it will be a setback for the BJP in these constituencies.
If the Congress win handsomely from Garo Hills and retain mush of the 24 seats from the region and also manage to win few seats from the other region, then it can stake claim to lead the next government. Ultimately it is the 34 seats from the Khasi and Jaintia Hills region which will decide which party will lead the next coalition government in the state.
Mohrmen is a freelance writer and environment activist based in Jowai, Meghalaya. He can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org