Updated: November 25, 2021 11:15:22 am
The Congress is headed for a major setback in Meghalaya with the Trinamool Congress on Wednesday claiming that 12 of the 17 MLAs of the principal Opposition party are set to join its camp.
This comes less than a week after former Meghalaya chief minister Mukul Sangma met the AICC leadership in Delhi.
The development will come as a boost for the TMC in the Northeast. When contacted, Sangma told The Indian Express that he will share some “happy developments and news” on Thursday.
In the 2018 polls, Congress had emerged as the single largest party with 21 seats in the 60-member state Assembly. The National People’s Party (NPP), led by Conrad Sangma, had bagged 19 seats and the BJP won two. But the NPP managed to cobble together a ruling alliance as part of the BJP-backed North East Democratic Alliance.
Meghalaya is set to hold Assembly polls in 2023.
The Congress’s Meghalaya unit has been in turmoil since Vincent H Pala was appointed state unit president in August, with Sangma claiming that the appointment was carried out without his consent. In September, Sangma had stayed away from a function to felicitate Pala.
In October, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and senior leader Rahul Gandhi met Sangma in Delhi in a bid to placate him, following which he claimed that “efforts are on to iron out the differences”.
Subsequently, in the October 30 bypolls, Sangma campaigned for a Congress candidate in one of the three constituencies where elections were held. As recently as November 18, Sangma and Pala attended a meeting with Congress general secretary (organisation) K C Venugopal and AICC Meghalaya in-charge Manish Chatrath.
When contacted, Chatrath expressed surprise at the development. “K C Venugopal and I had a cordial meeting with Sangma, PCC president Vincent Pala, the three working presidents and some other senior leaders of the party from the state just five days ago, on November 18. Sangma also issued a statement after that meeting vowing to strengthen the party,” he said.
Sources said the AICC is making a last-ditch attempt to prevent the split. But one leader said there is little chance of a reconciliation now.
The TMC is making an aggressive push to expand its national footprint. On Wednesday, West Bengal CM and TMC chief Mamata Banerjee, who is visiting Delhi, suggested that the party plans to back non-Congress Opposition parties across the country and make forays wherever it feels it can dislodge the Congress as the principal opposition.
Briefing reporters after meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the third day of her Delhi visit, Banerjee made it clear that she did not seek any appointment to meet Sonia Gandhi.
“I did not seek time from anyone apart from the PM. I know there are polls in Punjab and they (Gandhi and Kejriwal) are busy, let them work for their party… Do I need to meet every time? Is there any such constitutional provision?”
On Tuesday, Banerjee inducted Congress leader Kirti Azad, expelled JD(U) leader Pawan Varma, and former Haryana Congress leader Ashok Tanwar into her party.
Sangma is the seventh former Congress CM to leave the party since 2014. Recently, former Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh left the party. Earlier, former chief ministers Vijay Bahuguna (Uttarakhand), late Ajit Jogi (Chhattisgarh), S M Krishna (Karnataka), Narayan Rane (Maharashtra) and Giridhar Gamang (Odisha) had left the party.
With Manoj CG, New Delhi
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