Local-outsider slugfest dominates Meghalaya poll campaign 

The anti-TMC campaign started a few months ago with the narrative that it is a “Bengali party”. The “outsiders’ party” tag was attached to it subsequently.

Published: 29th January 2023 06:30 PM  |   Last Updated: 29th January 2023 06:30 PM   |  A+A-

TMC and NPP flags

Flags of the respective parties, TMC and NPP.

Express News Service

GUWAHATI: An “outsider versus local” political slugfest is dominating the Meghalaya election campaign.

After the TMC allegedly called the BJP an “outsider” in the 2021 West Bengal elections, ruling parties BJP and National People’s Party (NPP) in Meghalaya are now paying back the former in the same coin. 

The TMC had a backdoor entry into the Christian-majority Meghalaya after 12 Congress MLAs, led by former Chief Minister Mukul Sangma, jumped ship in November 2021. As it launched an aggressive poll campaign hoping to upset the ruling coalition, the BJP and the NPP are trying to give a sense to people that the TMC is an “outsiders’ party”. 

The anti-TMC campaign started a few months ago with the narrative that it is a “Bengali party”. The “outsiders’ party” tag was attached to it subsequently.

While launching the NPP’s election campaign last week from Adokgre in the North Garo Hills, Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma said the NPP has every right to call the TMC an “outsiders’ party”.

“When you can call a national party (BJP) a party of outsiders in West Bengal, we have every right to call you an outsiders’ party in Meghalaya,” he had then said.

Joining the war of words, BJP state president Ernest Mawrie called TMC chairperson and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee an “outsider”. 

“The TMC is based only in West Bengal and the people of Meghalaya are not going to accept the party,” Mawrie claimed on Saturday.

The TMC shot back. “If Mamata Banerjee is an outsider in Meghalaya, can Prime Minister Narendra Modi be also called an outsider when he visits the state? Aren’t we all Indians?” TMC candidate Elgiva Rynjah asked. 

She said the BJP demonstrated its narrow mindset by calling Banerjee an outsider.

Despite being allies, the ties between the BJP and the NPP have been on the rocks for the past two years over allegations of corruption in the government. The issue surrounding the TMC’s place of origin brought them together.

The TMC had no base in Meghalaya but the defection of the 12 Congress MLAs catapulted it into the state’s principal opposition overnight. However, four deserted it to contest the elections on the tickets of other political parties.

Most of the remaining eight MLAs are from the Garo Hills. The region has 24 of the state’s 60 seats and the TMC is expected to do well here. However, it faces a challenge in the two other regions of Khasi Hills and Jaintia Hills where the seats are likely to be shared by all major national and regional parties.

The state will go to elections on February 27.


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