New Government in Meghalaya and BJP

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“It is easier to prevent bad habits than to break them.”

– Benjamin Franklin

It is ironical that Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, who was instrumental in the toppling of DD Lapang government in October 2010, only to install the government led by Mukul Sangma, has played the pivotal role to keep Mukul out of power to install another Sangma (Conrad) as the chief minister of Meghalaya. Tura MP and the president of Nationalist People’s Party (NPP) staked a claim to form a new government, after cobbling together an alliance with an independent MLA, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP, 2), the United Democratic Party (UDP, 6), the People’s Democratic Front (PDF, 4), and the Hill State People’s Democratic Party (HSPDP, 2). The coalition has 34 lawmakers, two more than the number needed to cross the halfway mark in the 60-member assembly. The results of the Meghalaya election – fractured mandate – did not surprise anyone as it went on the predicted line. As the two national parties – the Congress and National People’s Party (NPP) ended in a photo finish, the saffron party rushed the senior leader Himanta Biswa, a key strategist and the man behind in BJP’s win in Assam, to Shillong so as to stop Congress’ bid to form government in the state. A former Congress man, Himanta has already succeeded in putting Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh to the party’s kitty, and continues to work towards what he calls “mainstreaming the northeast region” in the country’s politics. In Meghalaya too, he delivered as he stitched up an alliance of all the non-Congress parties which outsmarted the Congress, who had earlier staked claim to form the new government, in the power tussle.

As BJP could secure only two seats out of 47 it had contested, it had ‘officially’ little say in the process of government formation. But in reality, it is BJP (read Himanta Biswa Sarma) made it happen – from convincing UDP to join the non-Congress alliance to parading four People’s Democratic Front (PDF) MLAs before governor Ganga Prasad. Among the three Independent legislators, strategist Sarma could convince Samuel Sangma to declare his support on Sunday to the 39-year-old NPP leader — one of the three children of PA Sangma active in politics. The move puts the BJP in power in effectively six of the seven Northeastern states, barring Mizoram, the lone state where the Congress is in power. It is currently in power in Assam, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and is going to form governments in Tripura and Nagaland.

Though BJP with only two MLAs will be a part of the Conrad Sangma-led government, which will take oath on Tuesday, yet poll outcome says that the people of Meghalaya has not embraced its Hindutva politics vis-à-vis violence by cow vigilante groups in various states controlled by the party, a notification of the Modi government to regulate the slaughter of cows. The last nail on the coffin just before February 27 polls was certainly the denial of visa to the international head of the Baptist Church who was invited to attend the celebrations for 150 years of Christianity in the Garo Hills. The party, which failed to better its 1998 record of sending three MLAs to the state assembly, will be a part of treasury bench. This is the irony of Indian politics.

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