The BJP has decided to contest both the Lok Sabha seats in Meghalaya on its own, against candidates of both its alliance partner in the state and the Congress.
The National People’s Party (NPP) led by Conrad Sangma heads the ruling Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) government in which the BJP is a partner.
“The BJP will contest alone in Tura and Shillong. But at the government level, our friendship with the NPP will continue. We fought separately in the (February 2018) Assembly elections too. It is not new,” said Himanta Biswa Sarma, senior Assam minister and convenor of the North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), a BJP-led grouping of regional parties in the region. Follow more election news here.
Speaking in Guwahati, Sarma said, “We are contesting alone because the BJP is a growing party and if we don’t contest, we will lose the votes we got in the last election. And the NPP is not in a position to concede seats to the BJP. Our singular aim is to see the Congress defeated.”
For the Shillong seat, the MDA candidate is Dr Jemino Mawthoh of the United Democratic Party (UDP) while for Tura, the NPP has fielded Agatha Sangma, the CM’s sister and a two-time MP from the seat.
NPP Meghalaya-unit president W R Kharlukhi said, “Even without the BJP, we are the majority — they are with us in the government since we are part of NEDA. It will take the BJP many years to have a considerable presence in Meghalaya. Hence, I don’t think them contesting alone will impact us in anyway.”
In 2014, the Congress’s Vincent Pala had won the Shillong Lok Sabha seat while the NPP’s P A Sangma — the father of Conrad and Agatha — had won Tura. The senior Sangma’s death in 2016 had paved the way for his son Conrad to become MP. The Tura seat has been vacant since Conrad became CM.
Agatha was elected as an MP from Tura first in 2008, after the senior Sangma resigned to become an MLA in the state. The next year, she was elected again. In last year’s state polls, Agatha won from the South Tura constituency but months later she resigned to pave way for her brother to contest and get elected to the Assembly.
On the BJP contesting the polls alone, senior Meghalaya Congress leader Ronnie V Lyngdoh said, “The regional parties are hand in glove with the BJP. The tribal people of Meghalaya, and probably of all of the Northeast, do not trust the BJP for their ideas and policies. Hence these parties are pretending to keep a distance from the BJP by contesting without the BJP. It is a step to fool the people but people will see through this.”