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In the state elections, the results for which were declared on Saturday, the Congress emerged as the single-largest party, winning 21 out of the 59 seats. However, this does not give the party a clear majority and the prospect of a hung Assembly looms over Meghalaya.
The National People’s Party (NPP) was at the second position with 19 seats, according the results. The BJP, which contested 47 seats, could win only two.
Polling for 59 Assembly seats, out of 60, was held on February 27. A Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) candidate was killed in an IED blast, which resulted in countermanding of the polls in one seat.
To form government in Meghalaya at the present juncture, a party or coalition requires a minimum of 30 seats. The Congress had no pre-poll arrangement with any party. To explore the possibility of forming a government the Congress has rushed two senior leaders, Ahmed Patel and Kamal Nath, to the state.
Chief Minister Mukul Sangma of the Congress, who won from the two seats he contested, said the results were not on expected lines and he would keep his cards close to his chest with regard to the Congress forming the government. “The results were not on expected lines, but I am still looking forward. I would like to keep my cards close to the chest,” he told PTI.
The BJP, which made a serious bid to dethrone the 10-year-old Mukul Sangma government, had no seat-sharing arrangement with any other party. However, the NPP is an ally of the saffron party at the Centre and in Manipur. NPP chief Conrad Sangma said, “We are hopeful that we will be able to form the government. People are fed up with the corrupt Congress government and are looking for a change.” All eyes are now on the regional parties and independent candidates.
The Congress’ decision to send senior leaders comes in the wake of criticism in the past that the party was caught ‘napping’ in Goa and Manipur, where despite emerging as the single largest party it failed to form governments there. After the Assembly elections last year threw hung verdicts in Manipur and Goa, the BJP formed governments there with the help of smaller parties and independent candidates.
Patel said there would no repetition of Manipur and Goa. Nath said “It is clear that we will form the government. The will of the people of Meghalaya will be reflected in our Congress government. We are in touch with everybody. Everybody is in touch with us,” he said, adding that “we will stake claim tonight”.
Nath alleged the BJP is trying to use “money power to cause as much disturbance as possible”.
“We are in touch with like-minded regional parties and independents to form the government,” state Congress working president Vincent H Pala told PTI.
Meghalaya is one of the five states where the Congress has been ruling. The other states where the party is in power, are Punjab, Karnataka, Mizoram and Puducherry.