By Sunil Garodia
First publised on 2023-03-02 06:37:43
It is being reported that NPP chief and Meghalaya chief minister Conrad Sangma was in Guwahati and had a secret meeting with BJP's chief North-East minder and Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma ahead of the counting of votes. The buzz is that NPP and BJP are once again going to form an alliance in Meghalaya as the exit polls had suggested a fractured verdict. Sarma later told reporters that the BJP was going to form the government in all three states where elections were held.
Both parties were in alliance in the outgoing government but chose to go solo in the elections. It was a bitter campaign and both parties made several allegations against each other. Home minister Amit Shah called the Meghalaya government one of the most corrupt in the country. But as Conrad Sangma said after the exit polls, fighting elections is one thing and forming the government is a different thing. He said his party was keeping all its options open.
The situation in Meghalaya is very interesting as early trends suggest Conrad Sangma's NPP is doing exceedingly well and is poised to win 24/27 seats. That is much better than what the exit polls had suggested. On the other hand, Mamata Banerjee's TMC has performed well below the exit poll predictions and is likely to win only 4/5 seats. The BJP has increased its tally but with 5/6 seats, it is still well below UDP which may win 8/9 seats. Hence, Sangma is in the happy position of being able to choose which party he wishes to align with as he will need only 5/7 seats for a majority. He can even choose to pass all parties and get some independents or smaller parties to support his party and form the government.
But knowing Himanta Biswa Sarma, he must have convinced Sangma to go with the BJP. With 5/7 seats, the BJP can add to the 24/27 seats of the NPP and they can comfortably form the government. It remains to be seen whether Sangma forgets the hard words spoken against him by the BJP during electioneering and aligns with the party once more to give the state a 'double-engine' government or whether he chooses to go solo with the help of some smaller parties and independents. Also, given the propensity of MLAs to change sides, NPP can also attract some defectors and form the government without taking help from anyone.