GUWAHATI: In politically-unstable Meghalaya, defections, mostly by Congress MLAs, galore ahead of Assembly elections which are expected in three months’ time.
The Congress, which heads the ruling Meghalaya United Alliance (MUA), has been at the receiving end for some time now due to rebellion, albeit subdued, by party legislators. Seven of its MLAs resigned over the past few days. Five others, including four Independents, who were lending support to MUA, have also resigned. Following the developments, the Mukul Sangma government is now left with the support of 34 MLAs in the 60-member House.
Two parties gaining from the developments are PA-Sangma founded National People’s Party (NPP), which now his son and Lok Sabha member Conrad Sangma heads, and BJP. Eight of the MLAs, including three Independents, have defected to NPP. The BJP has got the remaining four.
On Tuesday, four MLAs, including one from the Congress, defected to the BJP, which is trying to emerge as a force to reckon with in the Christian-majority state. Former health minister AL Hek, NCP’s Sanbor Shullai and Independent legislators, Robinus Syngkon and Justine Dkhar, joined the BJP at a rally in Shillong in the presence of party election in-charge and union minister KJ Alphons and its all India general secretary Ram Madhav.
For Hek, it was homecoming. He had contested three elections in 1998, 2003 and 2008 on the BJP’s ticket. In 2009, he left the party to be with the Congress and fought the elections successfully. He was re-elected in 2013.
Addressing the rally, Alphons claimed that Sangma’s days were numbered.
“We will throw out the most corrupt government in Meghalaya (from power). Mr chief minister, your days are numbered. This is just the beginning,” Alphons asserted. Ram Madhav said he was optimistic about the re-election of the four MLAs, confirming that the quartet will be issued tickets.
Robinus Syngkon, who resigned as an Independent MLA and joined the BJP, said alleged corruption in the Congress-led government had made them to resign.
“We had set some pre-conditions which they (BJP) accepted. We demanded the lifting of the ban on coal mining and development in our areas. We also demanded that Christianity shouldn’t be touched,” Syngkon told The New Indian Express.
Some people viewed the rebellion in the Congress as the handiwork of the BJP. The Congress said the BJP’s hand has been always there, as evident from the defections of the MLAs to the party and its ally NPP. The odds are against the Congress but it sought to put up a brave face.
“We are not at all worried, for the people in Meghalaya have always been there with the Congress. Secondly, it is true people are going away from us but people are also coming to us. Soon, you will see fresh blood in two IAS officers and some engineers joining us,” Congress MP Vincent H Pala, who was recently appointed as the working president of Pradesh Congress Committee, said.