The Meghalaya assembly elections will be held on February 27 and counting of votes will take place on March 3. For the first time, Verified Voter’s Paper Trail (VVPATs) will be used in the assembly elections in Meghalaya. Meghalaya comprises of 60 assembly constituencies. A total of 55 constituencies are reserved for Scheduled Tribes and the remaining are for the general candidates.
Meghalaya is currently ruled by the Congress led by Chief Minister Mukul Sangma. This party won 29 seats in 2013 state elections. The Congress entered into an alliance with the United Democratic Party which got eight seats. While 13 seats were won by independent candidates, NCP and NPP scored 2 seats each. However, adding to their worries is the recent development of its sitting MLAs quitting the party. Speculations are that the Congress, which has been in power for nearly 15 years in Meghalaya, is facing serious political competition in the upcoming Assembly polls for the first time in years. Congress is not in power in the Centre and the state heavily depends on the Centre for funds, which would turn out to be an important deciding factor. The election is very important for the party, as it is one of few states under its rule. Congress’ chances of forming another government might depend on the support of smaller regional parties in Meghalaya.
The UDP, like some other regional parties, is against national political outfits forming the government in the state, and believes the “communal” BJP and “cancerous” Congress must not be allowed to come to power.
The NPP one of the only regional parties, is a constituent in the BJP-led North-East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), a coalition that was formed in 2016. The NPP was part of the UPA, but the party fought against the Congress in the 2013 Meghalaya election. NPP was nearly wiped out, but has gained significant prominence in the last few years and finds itself in a much stronger position.
Although the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) never had a significant stronghold in the state, the party, riding on confidence after sweeping several Assembly polls in the country recently, is targeting the serving Congress government’s alleged policy paralysis, corruption and ignorance towards development work. Congress, in the meanwhile, has assumed that the BJP will use its money power and ride piggy back on NPP.