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Meghalaya Elections 2023: Is It BJP Vs Congress, Or Will Local Parties Dominate?

The state is all set to vote to elect its 11th state assembly on February 27, and the political ground seems to bring a four-cornered contest during the polls.

Politics News
| Written By
Abhishek Tiwari
Meghalaya Elections 2023

Meghalaya Elections 2023. (Image: PTI)

The state of Meghalaya is all set to vote in order to elect its 11th state assembly on February 27, and the political ground seems to bring a four-cornered contest in the Northeastern state.

From the ruling party National Progressive Party (NPP), to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and from the Indian National Congress (INC), which secured the most number of seats in the last assembly elections to the Trinamool Congress (TMC) all are battling to gain power in the state assembly on their own.

Major political faceoff is expected between NPP and Congress 

Apart from this, many regional parties, with a good vote base in some of the selected regions are also giving tough competition. Amid the speculation of a tight political contest in the state, a major political faceoff is expected between the NPP and the Congress.

Indian National Congress (INC) effect  
After the last polls, the Congress had emerged as the single largest party with 21 seats but was far short of the 31 needed for a simple majority. The history of Meghalaya indicates that the voters have preferred to choose Congress the maximum number of times.
Taking note of the last elections in the state, the Congress party is considered to be the strongest party, which ended up being the real loser. With 21 seats in 2018 state polls, the party which emerged as the largest party in the state is left with none of the MLAs at present.
The party lost all its MLAs to other political parties between the periods of 2018 to 2023. This time around the party is looking to win a majority in the state, but, NPP is throwing tough challenges.

Trinamool Congress effect  
The real gainer in the state is TMC, which drew a blank in the last polls, but now has eight MLAs. Some of these MLAs jumped from Congress to get into the Trinamool Congress. With eight sitting MLAs at its core, the party is looking to clinch a big notch in the upcoming elections.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) effect  
Political experts say, the BJP has decided to go solo in the upcoming elections but it is less likely that it will be benefited from the move. People’s mood appears to be against the party over the CAA and NRC. But experts say that BJP has nothing to lose in the state assembly polls.
Earlier, the party, which had won two seats in the last assembly elections in 2018, was in alliance with the ruling NPP and was a part of the government. However, this time around they parted ways and decided to go without the support of each other.
The BJP seems to have consolidated its position in the last five years and will fancy its chances even as several MLAs from other parties have joined it.
The state may be far away from central politics, but it is one of the Northeastern states which will set the political mood for the general elections of the country next year. A good show in the state along with other neighbouring states will give a boost to BJP’s frontrunner status. However, any slip-up is not likely to harm the party’s status in the Centre for sure.

National People's Party (NPP) effect
The National People's Party is a national-level political party in India, though its influence is mostly concentrated in the state of Meghalaya. It is the first political party from Northeastern India to have attained this status.
In 2018, the party won 19 out of 60 assembly seats and formed the government in the state in coalition with BJP and other parties, with Party President Conrad Sangma sworn in as Chief Minister of the state. In May 2018, the party won the Williamnagar Assembly seat in a by-election making its tally to 20 out of 60 assembly seats.
Being the ruling party of the state, NPP is again considered to be a front-runner in the state.

The state of Meghalaya is governed by the Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA), which comprises the NPP, BJP, United Democratic Party (UDP), People’s Democratic Front (PDF), and Hill State People’s Democratic Party (HSPDP).
However, with anti-incumbency against the government in the state and in the government in Centre, the opposition is looking more hopeful to win the battle.

Effect of regional parties

United Democratic Party (UDP)
The emergence of regional parties in Meghalaya is older than the state. The first regional political party, the All Party Hills Leaders Conference (APHLC), was formed to fight for the statehood of Meghalaya. The party, later on, went on to become UDP in 1997, with the unification of more regional parties.
With 6 seats in the 2018 assembly polls, the UDP joined hands with the NPP and became part of the government. This time the party is contesting on 46 seats, and claims to have a significant voter base in the Khasi-Jaintia region. It is fielding 30 candidates in Khasi-Jaintia Hills and another 16 in Garo Hills. The region is also dominated by the NPP.
Regional leaders believe that there is a brighter chance for the regional party in the upcoming polls, as voters are seeking for a change and don’t want national leadership in the state.
The UDP is expected to perform well in the polls, since five sitting MLAs of the HSPDP, TMC, Congress, including one Independent have joined the party ahead of the elections.

People’s Democratic Front (PDF)
One of the other regional parties in the state, the PDF is an ally of the NPP-led government in the state. However, the party has decided to contest the polls alone like BJP. The party which was formed in 2017 managed to win 4 seats in the 2018 polls. Not only this, the party also managed to get 8.2 per cent of the total vote share. However, two of its sitting MLAs shifted to the Conrad Sangma-led NPP. But the party leadership is confident about performing well in the contest.

Voice of People Party (VPP) and Hill State People’s Democratic Party (HSPDP)
Apart from this, the Voice of People Party (VPP) is another new entrant in the politics of Meghalaya, which is contesting on 18 seats this time in Khasi-Jaintia Hills region.

Another regional party in the fray is the Hill State People’s Democratic Party (HSPDP), which won two seats during the last elections. However, the party’s MLA and Cabinet Minister Renikton Lyngdoh Tongkhar left the party in January and joined the UDP. The party is playing on the promises to fight for the creation of the Khasi-Jaintia state.

Notably, in the history of Meghalaya, regional parties have formed the government five times. However, barring a couple of times, they could not complete full terms. On other occasions, they were seen joining hands with national parties like Congress and the NPP.
In the 2018 polls, seven regional parties joined hands with NPP to form the government, including the BJP.

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