The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is set to be part of the ruling coalition in Meghalaya once again, despite little improvement in its previous tally. The incumbent Chief Minister Conrad Sangma’s National People’s Party (NPP) has won 25 seats, up from 20 in 2018. The Congress, which had won the highest number of seats at 21 in 2018, is down to just 5. The Trinamool Congress (TMC), a new entrant in the state, has also won 5 seats and leads.
A few days ago, CM Sangma hinted at forming a coalition government with other parties like in 2018, without naming the BJP. “If we get a fraction of the mandate, then we have to talk to parties to form the government,” he said. After the 2018 polls, Meghalaya was ruled by a coalition, the Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA), comprising the NPP, BJP, UDP, PDP, Hill State People’s Democratic Party, and an independent.
The Congress in Meghalaya has suffered due to several defections to other parties, leaving it with no MLAs. This has resulted in a highly demoralized state unit of the party, with little fight left in it. CM Sangma’s victory has a lot to do with this situation.
Given the border problems Meghalaya has with Assam, it is difficult for the BJP to make deeper inroads in the state. Insider-versus-outsiders was one of the poll issues this time. Assam has a BJP government which the Central government is seen to favor in its dispute with Meghalaya. “We need to defend our tribe and fight against the BJP, not with mere weapons but with the power of unity,” TMC’s Mukul Sangma had said last month.
Despite not making many gains in Meghalaya, the BJP has emerged as the winner in the northeast. The poll results prove that the BJP’s constant developmental focus on the northeast and shrewd poll strategy have established it as the dominant party in the region.
The BJP had won just two seats in Meghalaya in 2018, and it seems it won’t go much higher than that this time. However, being part of the ruling coalition in Meghalaya will mark another northeastern state as its own.