SHILLONG: Nationalist Congress Party legislator Marthon Sangma and Independent legislator Brigady Marak on Tuesday resigned as members of the Meghalaya Assembly and joined the ruling Congress to contest the February assembly polls.
On the other hand, four senior BJP leaders led by former Shillong City President Keith Pariat joined the Congress party alleging "mismanagement in the BJP state executive committee".
The strength of the 60-member Meghalaya Assembly, thus, stands reduced to 44, since seven Congress legislators, two from NCP, one from the United Democratic Party (UDP) and six Independents have resigned.
"We have resigned as members of the assembly and will be part of the Congress party as we feel that the people of the state have more faith and confidence in the Congress," Sangma told IANS.
Both legislators voiced confidence that the Congress would retain power in Meghalaya and that there was no alternative to the party in the state.
"We are confident that voters in Garo Hills (24 seats in the western part of Meghalaya) will not vote for the BJP due to its anti-Christian activities, and the NPP (National People's Party) too will suffer defeat since it is a part of the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre and in Manipur," Sangma told IANS.
However, the NPP has decided not to have a pre-poll alliance with the BJP in the upcoming assembly elections. Last week, five former Congress legislators - Rowell Lyngdoh, Prestone Tynsong, Coming One Ymbon, Ngaitlang Dhar and Sniawbhalang Dhar - had joined the NPP.
Former Congress legislator Alexander Hek, who was Health and Family Welfare minister in the Mukul Sangma Cabinet before being sacked last year, joined the BJP. Incumbent Chief Executive Member of the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council P.N. Syiem resigned from the assembly and joined the newly-floated People's Democratic Front.
Moreover, veteran Congress legislators including four-time Chief Minister D.D. Lapang, incumbent Deputy Chief Minister Roytre Christopher Laloo and Health and Family Welfare Minister Roshan Warjri, have been declared "retired" from electoral politics.
Meanwhile, State Congress President Celestine Lyngdoh told journalists that as many as 90 aspirants have applied for the Congress party ticket to contest the upcoming Meghalaya Assembly polls.
"We are not through yet with the meetings and we are still checking all the applicants. The final list will only be declared when the AICC gives its nod," he said.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Monday appointed senior Congress leader Oscar Fernandes as Chairman of the AICC's screening committee to finalise the candidates for Meghalaya.