Shillong: The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) of Sharad Pawar, a coalition partner of the Congress in the Meghalaya government, on Tuesday announced that it would contest the upcoming state Assembly polls on its own and field candidates on at least 42 seats.
NCP general secretary Praful Patel said the party could have an electoral understanding with regional parties on a few seats, adding that the scenario would be more clear as the election approached.
Patel, whose party had been supporting the Congress-led Meghalaya Progressive Alliance in the north-eastern state for the last five years, attacked Chief Minister Mukul Sangma for allegedly not giving the NCP its due in governance. The NCP's electoral plans for Meghalaya and two other north-eastern states of Nagaland and Tripura, where polls are due in the first quarter of the year, were made public by Patel after chairing a party meeting.
"We are going to contest on 22 of the 24 seats in the Garo Hills region and at least on 20 seats in the Khasi Hills in Meghalaya," he told reporters.
The NCP had two MLAs in the 60-member Meghalaya Assembly after the 2013 state polls. After Sanbor Shullai's resignation from the House, it is now left with only one legislator, MA Sangma.
On Monday, it had named Saleng A Sangma the new state party chief after he resigned from the House as an Independent MLA.
In Nagaland, Patel said the party was going to contest from fewer seats, but did not specify the number. "We have had four MLAs in Nagaland in the past," he said.
In Tripura, the NCP leader said the party was not going to contest, except for a few "token" seats. The polls in these states are due in the first quarter of
the year as the term of their current assemblies is scheduled to come to an end by March. The term of the Meghalaya Assembly ends on 6 March.
Patel, who was here on a whirlwind two-day tour, is slated to address a rally in the Garo Hills tomorrow, before returning to Delhi.
The former Union minister also released the first list of six candidates (for the Khasi-Jaintia Hills region), featuring former minister ECB Bamon who would lock horns with NPP candidate and former Congress minister Sniawbhalang Dhar.
Attacking the Sangma government, Patel said, "Misgovernance is of the highest order. The people are disillusioned and they are looking for a change." While acknowledging the growing popularity of the BJP in the state, he said the divisive policies of the saffron party and its allies, as regards food habits, cultural and religious ethos, would lead to fragmentation of the society.
"I am sure the people of Meghalaya will outrightly reject these infringements on their food habits, beliefs, religious ethos and that a befitting answer (to the BJP) will be given by the state in the coming election."
Asserting that the NCP was a credible alternative for the people of Meghalaya, the former Union minister said the party aimed at bringing good governance.
He was particularly harsh on the Sangma government for denying former Meghalaya NCP chief Sanbor Shullai a ministerial post, after he was asked to resign as the deputy speaker of the Assembly.
"The Congress did not do justice to the two MLAs from our party. They took our support, made Shullai the deputy speaker and then, asked him to resign," Patel said, adding that the NCP never got the respect it deserved in the ruling alliance.
Shullai is now with the BJP.
Asserting that the party would not extend support to the BJP after the election "for sure", the NCP leader said, "We will do what is in the best interest of the people of Meghalaya and have an alliance with the regional forces."
Updated Date: Jan 16, 2018 22:15 PM