Two Independent MLAs from Meghalaya’s Jaintia Hills have joined the BJP, ahead of Assembly polls in February next year. Rubinoff Syngkon and Justin Dkhar, former Parliamentary secretaries to the Congress government, joined the BJP in presence of party president Amit Shah and Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, the party’s pointsman for its Northeast outreach.
Syngkon and Dkhar are tribal Christians, a community which the BJP needs to woo in the wake of the political uproar over the beef issue. Sarma said he is hopeful of three more Independent MLAs and one Congress legislator joining the party when Shah visits the state next month. He refused to name the four.
Syngkon was elected from Mowkaiaw and Dkhar from Khliehriat, constituencies reserved for Scheduled Tribes. Only five seats in the 60-member Meghalaya Assembly are under the general category and the rest are reserved for STs. “This is very significant for BJP. The two were serving as Parliamentary secretaries to the Congress government there, they belong to the Jayantia tribe. We expect more breakthroughs soon. At least three more Independent MLAs and one from Congress will join the BJP. This is important because there are just five months left for the elections,” Sarma said.
Two BJP leaders in the Garo and Khasi hill districts of Meghalaya had resigned a few months ago in the wake of the notification regulating cattle sale. Denying that the resignations were over the beef ban, BJP had claimed that the leaders had resigned as they were upset over the ongoing reorganisation of district units. There were also broad hints about the resignations having been engineered by Meghalaya CM Mukul Sangma. However, Sarma conceded that beef was a prickly issue for the party in the Northeast.