Shillong: The United Democratic Party (UDP) in Meghalaya has exuded confidence that regional outfits would form the next government in the state. People in Meghalaya had enough of the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is yet to gain ground in the state, a senior UDP leader said.
Meghalaya is set to go to polls on 27 February and the results will be announced on 3 March. “We are forming the next government and there is no doubt about it. We are leaving no stone unturned to cross the magic number 31 in the 60-member House," UDP working president Paul Lyngdoh said.
The Congress, which is in power in Meghalaya for about 15 years, is facing anti-incumbency problem while the BJP is struggling to win the hearts of people here, Lyngdoh said. The UDP had secured the second spot with 8 seats in the 2013 assembly election. The Congress that bagged 29 seats in the polls had formed government with the support of 13 independents and two NCP MLAs.
This time, the UDP has forged pre-poll alliances with regional parties Hills State Peoples Democratic Party (HSPDP) and Garo National Council(GNC). Although the UDP happens to be a constituent of North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), led by the BJP, Lyngdoh feels it NEDA a political platform for the development of North East and not pre-poll alliances. He said that the UDP-HSPDP combine would field candidates in at least 36 seats in the Khasi Jaintia Hills region with an agreed seat-sharing formula.
“The UDP will contest 17 seats in the region and the HSPDP 10. In the remaining nine seats, both parties can have friendly contest," Lyngdoh proposed. In the Garo Hills region, which has 24 seats, six constituencies have been allotted to the GNC, the UDP chief said. It is yet to be decided whether the UDP would contest the remaining 18 seats in the region, he added.
GNC president Kalpana D Sangma has said she expects her party to win at least five of the six seats in the three districts of South Garo Hills, South West Garo Hills and West Garo Hills. Despite losing five senior sitting MLAs to the BJP, NPP and PDF earlier this month, chief minister Mukul Sangma has also expressed confidence in securing at least 38 seats on its own. “The Congress will win 38 seats and form the government once again," he said at a party meeting here recently.
The BJP, on the other hand, dismissed the claims of the Congress and regional parties and stated that the party will spring a surprise in the assembly polls. State BJP president Shibun Lyngdoh said, “Our mantra of ‘sabka saath sabka vikas’(collective efforts, inclusive growth) is reverberating in poll-bound Meghalaya with people coming in huge numbers to support the party," he claimed.
Four sitting legislators, including former cabinet minister A L Hek and NCP’s former state president Sanbor Shullai, had joined the saffron party early this month. The Khun Hynniewtrep National Awakening Movement (KHNAM), another regional outfit, said it would support any party that wins maximum number of seats on conditions that issues identified by it in the state get addressed. “Any party which needs our support will have to understand our issues and agree in principle that they will take it up as its government’s agenda," KHNAM working president Adelbert Nongrum said, adding that his party is likely to contest nine seats.