It is by and large expected that the 2018 general elections to Meghalaya assembly will usher in a coalition government and people are already anticipating the emergence of the three major groups which will win more than 10 seats. The government formation will depend mainly on how the three major groups convince each other to form a government.
The three major constituents which form the tri-polar force in government formation in the state are the Congress, the Nationalist People Party (NPP) and the regional alliance of UDP-HSPDP-GNC. The three factions will definitely play a vital role in the making of the next government in the state.
It is obvious that the outcome of the election is such that none of the constituent can singularly form a government by itself, any of the party or the group will need the support of another constituent to form the next government.
Neither the Congress nor the regional alliance or the NPP will be able to form a government. In fact the NPP will not be able to form a government even with the support of its ally at the centre the BJP and also the government in Manipur; because the BJP is expect to get at the most win five seats.
The scenario post March 3, therefore, will be that both the Congress and the NPP will have to woo the regional alliance if it really wants to form the next government. Unlike in the last government where we have many independent candidates who won the election and became kingmakers, this year very few independent candidates will win and even if all the independent candidates who won the election decide to come into one grouping they will not be able to help any of the party or the alliance to form the government.
The newly formed regional party; the PDF and another regional party KHNAM are too small to make any significant contribution in the government formation in the state. Like the independent MLAs, their strength will also very much depend on their size, if they win many seats then perhaps they can also play a kingmaker role in the government formation.
The more seats they win the stronger their position will be in the next government but it is very unlikely that they will be able to come up with the required numbers.
The ball, as they say, is in the regional party-alliance’s court, they will have a major say in the formation of the next government and perhaps a larger say in the direction the government move since they also hold the trump card in the game. It is for the alliance to decide who will be its bedfellow for the next five years or as long as the alliance could last.
It is here that the ideology factor plays a crucial role and if the regional alliance decide to form a coalition government with the NPP; then it will have to also accept the BJP because the two are already in partners at least on two counts.
The moot question is also the ideological difference between the regional parties and the NPP and the BJP in particular, the regional parties would have to weigh the pros and cons before it enter into an alliance with the party less it would backfire on the prospect of the regional parties in the future.
The NPP with its baggage; the BJP is not a sought after alternative for the regional alliance because right now the BJP is very unpopular in the entire state. The NPP could also be a threat to the future of the regional parties in the state so unlike the Congress; if the regional parties ally with it, it will be at the cost of the regional parties because the NPP is a regional party in the garb of a national party.
Post March 3, the regional party’s alliance will be in a situation like they say; “between devil and deep sea’. The choice will be to choose on the lesser of the two evils because regional parties consider national parties as threat to their very existence.
The Congress with it liberal and secular outlook is the only viable alternative for the regional alliance. Therefore it would not be a surprise if the next government in Meghalaya will be a coalition of the Congress and the regional alliance.
Mohrmen is a freelance writer and environment activist based in Jowai, Meghalaya. He can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org