Meghalaya poll result: NPP emerges clear leader; BJP, TMC, Cong humbled

Meghalaya poll result: NPP emerges clear leader; BJP, TMC, Cong humbled

Corruption charges from all quarters — including both allies and opposition — notwithstanding, the National People’s Party (NPP) led by incumbent Chief Minister Conrad Sangma looks all set to taking the lead in forming the next government in Meghalaya.

By 6.30 pm on Thursday (March 2), NPP had won 22 seats and was leading in four, taking the total count to 26 seats, with a 31% vote share. It has improved its performance compared to 2018, when it won 20 seats. Former ally United Democratic Party (UDP) came the closest, with 11 seats.

Another former ally BJP, which viciously attacked Conrad’s party in the days leading to the polls over the multiple scams unearthed in the state, won three seats. NPP’s relationship with UDP was also frayed because the regional party was eyeing a bigger pie, hoping for the CM’s post, which does not seem likely.

Will the former allies bury the hatchet?

The NPP does not have the required majority to form the government on its own. Hence, the former allies may bury the hatchet and join hands to form the government again. But the NPP has plenty of options to get a majority.

“We are having a close watch on the results. We have been keeping all options open,” Shillong Times quoted NPP leader Saidul Khan as saying.

The other member of the Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) were the Hill State People’s Democratic Party (HSPDP), which has won two seats this time, too, like in 2018. Another MDA ally, People’s Democratic Front (PDF) has won two seats as well. It had won four seats in 2018.

Cong, TMC’s dismal show

Both Congress and Trinamool Congress (TMC) gave a dismal performance in the polls, with both bagging five seats. Former CM Mukul Sangma, who left Congress and joined the TMC with 11 MLAs in 2021, making it the main Opposition in the Meghalaya Assembly overnight, contested from two seats — Songsak and Tikrikilla. While he won Songsak by merely 372 votes, he lost Tikrikilla to Jimmy D Sangma of NPP.

It is likely that the votes got split between TMC and Congress this time, while the Congress was the largest single party to win the most seats (21) in 2018. Their combined seat count is 20 this time.

Fall of giants

One of the toughest contests was predicted for the South Tura constituency, where CM Conrad Sangma was pitted against militant-turned-politician Bernard N Marak of BJP. By 6.30 pm, Conrad was leading by 3,251 votes against Marak. One of the major grouses the BJP had against NPP was Marak’s arrests in 2022, once for allegedly running a brothel and storing explosives at his Tura farmhouse, and later for his alleged involvement in manipulating essential commodity prices.

In West Shillong, Paul Lyngdoh of UDP won by a margin of 3,485 votes over Mohendro Rapsang of NPP. Meghalaya BJP chief Ernest Mawrie came a distant third. At Sutnga Saipung, state Congress chief Vincent Pala was trailing behind NPP’s Santa Mary Shylla by 1,828 votes at 6.30 pm.

Newcomers Voice of the People Party (VPP), which claimed to be a voice against corruption, put up a modest show, bagging four seats. Founder Ardent M Basaiawmoit won the Nongkrem seat, while the party also bagged the Mawlai, North Shillong, and Mawryngkneng seats.

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