Elections, they say, are the festival of Democracy. Several states including our home state Meghalaya will go to poll in February 2023 to elect 60 members Legislative Assembly. This election is different than the earlier elections. Earlier, it was between Congress vs. National People’s Party (NPP) vs. Regional Parties. Now it is National People’s Party (NPP)  vs. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) vs. Trinamool Congress (TMC) vs. Congress vs. United Democratic Party (UDP).

It is to be noted that during the last assembly election, it was Indian National Congress (INC), which got the highest seat with highest percentage of vote, but was the main opposition party. Unfortunately, the party MLA’s migrated to TMC and some of them from TMC to BJP. TMC today is the main opposition party of the state. Thus, in an interaction, the President of Meghalaya INC with Eastern Panorama, rightly admitted that, INC in Meghalaya is down but not out. The good thing for the party is that it has already finalized the candidates of 40 people out of 60, they include prominent people of all section of the society. But, lacks visibility and connection with people.

NPP, which is the only national party with its root in the North East, is ruling Meghalaya, headed by Mr. Conrad K Sangma. He is also the National President of NPP. The party is working die hard to see that it wins majority. Many freebies and direct cash transfer of fund is seen being done by the Delhi Chief Minister Mr. Arvind Kejriwal and others. Their publicity campaign is very strong. In spite of anti-incumbency factor, it is all set to be the gainer in the coming elections, feel the observers.

AITC is doing its campaign under the leadership of Mr. Charles Pyngrope, the former Speaker of Meghalaya Assembly and Dr. Mukul Sangma, the former Chief Minister of Meghalaya. They are experienced and seasoned politicians. They hired the advertising agency I-PAC, which has a good track record. But, here it is not very sure, whether people of Meghalaya will accept a new party, which is considered as a regional party of West Bengal. Adding to this, the national leader of AITC Mr. Kirti Azad recently made a statement on the Khasi attire which the Prime Minister wore during NEC Golden Jubilee Celebration. It has been taken otherwise. This also reflects that mainland politicians, still lacks knowledge about culture, tradition and sentiments of the people of this region. It is in this perspective that their results in the election will depend. BJP is blessed with a star campaigner in the form of Mr. Narendra Modi who is an outstanding communicator and terrible motivator. BJP, if intends to fight elections with all its strength then they will make difference. But, it is unlikely that they will seriously fight elections. Their tally may increase marginally with local efforts and are likely to be the coalition partner with NPP again. But this time, they are doing good branding of the party.

Among regional parties, it is only UDP, which is seriously making efforts to increase their tally. Others are no serious players.

In a fight where there will be four or five serious contenders, it becomes very difficult to find out or forecast who wins or lose. To understand the political parties’ mindset, we spoke to the President of all major political parties. Our Cover Story is dedicated on Elections in Meghalaya.

Dr K K Jhunjhunwala