BJP central bosses silent as Meghalaya unit, NPP head for splitsville

After Manipur, the BJP’s relations with National Peoples Party (NPP), headed by Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma, have been souring rapidly in Meghalaya even as the saffron party’s central leadership remains silent and NPP leaders ignore the state BJP’s threat to withdraw support to the MDA government.

The BJP with two MLAs — Alexander Laloo Hek and Sanbor Shullai — has been supporting the Meghalaya Democratic Alliance government, dominated by the NPP, and including few other local parties.

BJP’s state President Ernest Mawrie, former Health and Family Welfare Minister Hek, and national Vice-President and party’s Meghalaya in-charge M. Chuba Ao have separately said that the state party leaders unanimously decided to withdraw support from the MDA government but the final decision would be taken by the central leadership.

While Chief Minister Sangma termed the BJP leaders’ threat as an “individual decision”, NPP state President W.R. Kharlukhi called it a “farce”.

BJP’s top leadership would communicate with him if it has any concern which was not the case so far, said Sangma, who is also the NPP’s national President.

Assembly elections to Meghalaya, Tripura, and Nagaland expected to be held in February after the polls in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, and political pundits observed that some equations may change after the outcome of the latter two.

The NPP’s relation with the BJP is gradually souring over various issues, specially after the arrest of BJP state Vice President Bernard N. Marak, who was arrested from Uttar Pradesh on July 25 for allegedly running a brothel in the West Garo Hills district.

BJP workers and leaders had earlier organised protests in Tura demanding a fair probe in Marak’s case. BJP leaders claimed that the farmhouse in the brothel case was been operational since 2019 but the raid was carried out just six months prior to the Assembly elections to malign Marak and to damage his political career.

Talking to IANS, Hek said that the decision of the party’s State Executive Committee and the Core Committee has been communicated to the central leaders and this is the right time to withdraw support from the MDA government.

BJP’s national General Secretary, Organisation, B.L. Santhosh was also present in the meetings of the State Executive Committee and the Core Committee, held last week.

Replying to a query about the reasons behind the decision to quit the ruling coalition almost at the end of the full five year term, Hek said: “Everything would be disclosed and explained in detail at an appropriate time.”

Ao had earlier said that there are huge allegations of corruption against the ministers and leaders of the MDA government.

Ahead of the assembly elections, the Trinamool Congress, a few months back, dramatically became the state’s principal opposition force overnight and is now looking to grab the space left vacant by the Congress.

After 12 of the 17 Congress MLAs led by former Chief Minister Mukul Sangma (2010-2018) joined the Trinamool in November last year, the latter became the main opposition party in the 60-member Assembly.

The five remaining Congress MLAs, led by Ampareen Lyngdoh, had earlier announced to join the National People’s Party-led MDA government.

Mukul Sangma told IANS that the Trinamool is focusing on strengthening the organisation at the grassroots level across the state.

“Lots of political dynamics would obviously unfold in the next few months. We have to see how the political parties, especially the non-BJP parties ally,” he said.

Against the backdrop of the changing political situation in the hill state, Conrad Sangma announced that his party will not have any pre-poll alliances and will contest next Assembly elections on its own, leading to confusion among the MDA allies — UDP, PDF and HSPDP.

Political analyst Toki Blah said that it is too early to make any forecast on the Assembly elections, expected to be held in February next year.

“The voting pattern in Meghalaya is individual-oriented or candidate-centric, not party or organisation-based. Before selection of the candidates by various parties, it is very hard to make any assessment on party lines,” he said.

The state has a matrilineal society but in the 2018 polls, only four women lawmakers, three from the Congress and one of the NPP, were elected. Tribal-dominated Meghalaya has 55 out of the total 60 seats reserved for the Scheduled Tribes.

The NPP, the estranged ally of the BJP in Manipur, had fielded 38 candidates against the BJP in the February-March Assembly polls and won seven seats, three more than the 2017 assembly polls.

However, the seven NPP MLAs, after the announcement of the election results, submitted a letter to the Governor saying that as the party is a constituent of the North East Democratic Alliance and the National Democratic Alliance, they will support the BJP government.

(Sujit Chakraborty can be contacted at sujit.c@ians.in)

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