Meghalaya Election results 2018: Conrad Sangma has task cut out to keep ruling coalition stable, fend off Congress

Guwahati: As National People's Party (NPP) leader Conrad Sangma has taken oath as the 12th chief minister of Meghalaya on Tuesday to head a coalition government, it is exactly after a decade that an alliance government comprising mostly of state political parties – along with the BJP – has come back to power in the hill state.

Meghalaya is a state known for its political instability ever since its inception in 1972, barring the last eight years of Congress rule under the leadership of Mukul Sangma.

File image of Conrad Sangma. Image courtesy: Team101 Reporters

File image of Conrad Sangma. Image courtesy: Team101 Reporters

It has never been easy to keep a coalition government stable in Meghalaya and evidently, Conrad has a tough job at hand to keep the allies happy and solid behind him, especially when the Congress – which has emerged the single largest party – will be on the prowl for an opportunity to storm back.

The regional parties' ruling alliance, Meghalaya Progressive Alliance (MPA) of ten years back, had a bitter experience as it collapsed exactly a year after its formation in 2008 because of differences among the allies that spun out of control of the then chief minister Donkupar Roy. He was the leader of United Democratic Party (UDP), that is the most important constituent in the newly-installed and NPP-headed Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA). After a year of President's Rule imposed in the state, the Congress cobbled up an alliance to form the government in 2010.

On that occasion in 2008, following a similar fractured mandate, the NCP, UDP, HSPDP and some independents had formed the government with Roy as the chief minister

The then MPA at first had the support of exactly 31 MLAs in the 60-member Assembly and subsequently secured support from two more independent MLAs that boosted the ruling coalition's strength to 33.

However, by March 2009, the government started tearing apart and Meghalaya was put under President's Rule, paving the way for the formation of another coalition government led by Congress.

However, both UDP and NPP are optimistic this time that the coalition government would complete its full tenure in the state, though BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma – who has played a key role in the formation of the NPP-led coalition government – has admitted that it is a tough job to head a coalition government.

It is an interesting fact to know that it was Sarma who then, in the capacity of a Congress leader, had helped the Congress to come back to power in Meghalaya in 2010.

Meanwhile, the HSPDP, a partner in the new coalition government in Meghalaya, has already made a discordant note as it expressed its unhappiness over the way ally UDP bulldozed its way to name Conrad as the chief minister without consulting it. The UDP and HSPDP had a pre-poll alliance for the just-concluded Assembly polls – where UDP won six seats and HSPDP won two seats.

HSPDP president Ardent Basaiawmoit, who lost in the election, stated before media that it was not the job of the UDP to decide as to who would be the leader of the NPP and the chief minister of the state. "We feel embarrassed as we were not consulted while the decision was taken to elect the chief minister of the state," he said.

Basaiawmoit also feels that the regional forces in Meghalaya minus the Congress and the BJP can easily form the government as they have the numbers, adding that the party would welcome an alliance between NPP-UDP-HSPDP and PDF.

Outgoing chief minister Sangma has alleged that the BJP has brought the regional parties together to piggy ride on them and fire from their shoulder in the state after formation the new government.

Sangma stated that the NPP was forming the government courtesy BJP. He said in a football match there were certain players who could create a turnaround and Congress too had the wherewithal to create a turnaround in any given situation and whenever needed.

The Congress too tried to woo UDP for the formation of the government in the state in the wake of the fractured mandate that emerged on 3 March. The UDP was offered two options – the party was offered to head the government with Congress providing the support for stability else the UDP leadership was offered to head the government for a period of two and half years while Congress would have led for the remaining portion of the tenure. But UDP spurned the Congress offer and opted to support the NPP in government formation.

Sangma, who remained chief minister for eight years since 2010, maintained that historically such coalition arrangements formed by NPP with so many partners would not be capable of providing stability in the state.

"I will expect them (the new government) to carry forward the momentum of growth and ensure that it is not dislocated," he said.

Published Date: Mar 06, 2018 19:06 PM | Updated Date: Mar 06, 2018 19:08 PM

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