Meghalaya’s Hills Set for ‘High Drama’ Ahead of 2023 Polls

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With just two months to go for the 2023 Meghalaya Assembly polls, political defections and resignation of legislators have begun – at least 18 sitting legislators will or have switched over, even as the entry of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) is set to change the dynamics.

Three sitting MLAs – two from the ruling National People’s Party (NPP) and one from the (TMC) — recently resigned as members of the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly.

MLAs Benedict Marak (Raksamgre) and Fairlene Sangma (Selsella) from NPP and Himalaya Muktan Shangpliang (Mawsynram) from the TMC will join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the first week of December.

Meanwhile, in a blow to the ruling United Democratic Party (UDP) alliance, legislator Samuel Sangma withdrew as the associate member of the UDP. Accompanied by senior BJP legislator and former cabinet Minister AL Hek, Sangma submitted his letter of withdrawal of support to UDP chief Metbah Lyngdoh. Samuel is the fourth sitting legislator to join the saffron party. “I withdrew as an associate member from UDP only, I did not resign.”

Sangma is a four-time MLA who represented Dalu, West Garo Hills district (2003 and 2008) and later Baghmara in South Garo Hills district (2013 and 2018). He had joined the UDP as its associate member on September 16, 2018. The legislator from Baghmara is all set to join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), however, the date of the joining is not fixed.

The BJP has maintained that the party will have a joining programme till December 20. “I have not yet joined the BJP, just I withdraw support as an associate member of UDP,” the MLA said. “I am not joining now, when I join then I will contest from BJP ticket only,” he added.

YOU LOSE SOME…

NPP national president and chief minister Conrad K Sangma, although, refused to comment on the resignations of Marak and Ferlin Sangma. He said, “You will have to ask them why they resigned, but it is okay it happens in politics, it happens in many parties, it happens to many MLAs and they have taken their decisions so I have nothing to say about it.”

Wishing them the best, the NPP chief said, “I wish them the very best and they can contest from any political party that they wish and as for my party, we will move forward and we will prepare for the elections.”

NPP state president WR Kharlukhi said the exodus of the MLAs is a known fact, even as he confirmed that one more MLA will desert the party, but the NPP is all set to gain eight sitting MLAs, including two from the Trinamool Congress.

As per reports, Phulbari MLA SG Esmatur Mominin is all set to quit the NPP and join the TMC.

YOU WIN SOME…

Meanwhile, the ruling NPP will get a boost with as many as 8 sitting legislators joining them.

Some of the sitting legislators said that they want to join the NPP on December 17.

Three suspended Congress legislators (sitting) including Dr. M Ampareen Lyngdoh (East Shillong), Mohendro Rapsang (West Shillong) and Kimfa Sidney Marbaniang (Rambrai Jyrngam) will join the ruling NPP.

Mohendro Rapsang (West Shillong) recently said, “My affiliation is towards NPP.”

Two of the TMC legislators Marthon Sangma (Mendipathar) and Jimmy D. Sangma (Tikrikilla) are likely to join NPP.

Two People’s Democratic Front legislators Hamletson Dohling (Mylliem) and Jason Sawkmie Mawlong (Umsning) are also reportedly in touch with the NPP and likely to join soon.

Hill State People’s Democratic Party MLA Samlin Malngiang (Sohiong) is likely to join the NPP.

Recently, Meghalaya CM Sangma said that the Opposition in the hill state was a divided house, and hence, “does not enjoy the trust and confidence of the people”.

UDP’s GAIN

The ruling alliance in MDA Government — United Democratic Party (UDP) — will see the joining of at least 4 sitting legislators. Hill State Peoples Democratic (HSPDP) in 2018 won just two seats in the 60-member house.

HSPDP MLA Renikton Lyngdoh Tongkhar has already declared his affiliation towards the United Democratic Party (UDP).

Suspended Congress legislators Process T. Sawkmie (Mawlai) and Mayralborn Syiem (Nongpoh) are joining the UDP. Sawkmie confirmed that he will join the UDP.

Another legislator to join the UDP is Shitlang Pale, the TMC legislator from Sutnga Saipung.

ENTRY OF THE TMC

The TMC’s entry has made the contest interesting. Leader of Opposition Mukul Sangma expressed confidence that the TMC will win from all constituencies. Sangma said, “Wherever we have gone (to set up candidates), please remember we will win those seats.”

Also, the TMC added that all sitting MLAs will not necessarily be potential candidates for the TMC to win the elections.

“We have to be very clear that every sitting MLA will have the challenge of getting re-elected, that’s a fact. How many sitting MLAs ultimately could not get re-elected in 2018 or 2013. It is a natural expectation and based on the overall political dynamics that unfolds in a given specific time, we as a political party have decided…to look for alternatives and have different candidates. We already have candidates and these candidates will win,” he claimed.

Sangma said that the TMC is the only alternative people are seeking in 2023.

Meanwhile, KHNAM legislator from North Shillong Adelbert Nongrum will be joining Voice of People’s Party (VPP) soon.​

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