Meghalaya: BJP-Congress rush to forge post-poll alliances
A hung verdict in Meghalaya has left India's two biggest parties scrambling to garner support to form the government. Congress, the single largest party, has already staked claim in a meeting with Governor Ganga Prasad. BJP too is going all out to forge an alliance with the National People's Party. BJP has retained Nagaland. In Tripura, it wrested power from the 25-year-old Left Front.
Who stands where in the Meghalaya assembly polls results
Meghalaya went to polls on February 27. Congress won 21 seats in the 60-member assembly. BJP won two while the National People's Party (NPP) won 19. Meanwhile, United Democratic Party (UDP) won six, People's Democratic Front won four, Hill State People's Democratic Party won two and Khun Hynniewtrep National Awakening Movement won one. Independents won three seats. The Nationalist Congress Party won one.
What's the BJP up to now?
The BJP had no seat-sharing arrangement with any party to dethrone the 10-year-old Congress government under Mukul Sangma. However, NPP is its ally in the Center as well as Manipur. It is also looking to bring UDP under one umbrella. Himanta Biswa Sarma, the party's key northeast strategist, said BJP won't have a "major role" in the state, instead giving primacy to its allies.
Meanwhile, what's the Congress doing?
The Congress had no pre-poll arrangement either. Its Legislature Party has a meeting today at 11am, while the NPP is expected to meet at noon. Sources said party leaders Ahmed Patel and Kamal Nath left for capital Shillong in the morning to hold discussions with Congress leaders, independents and possible allies. "BJP winning only two seats has proven that people rejected them," Nath said.
What happens next?
Congress will now be invited to prove majority in a floor test at a date and time decided by the governor. If it fails, BJP will be given the same chance. The two faced off on the Goa assembly floor last year. Congress was left embarrassed as its strength reduced to 16 during a confidence vote moved by Manohar Parrikar. BJP won 23 votes.
What does this mean for the two parties?
BJP has made major strides in the northeast in recent years, winning power in Assam (2016) and Manipur (2017) and forming the Arunachal government after a major defection. In power in 21 of India's 29 states, it is just two states away from a "Congress-mukt" northeast. Meanwhile, Congress, which has been reduced from nine states in 2014 to four now, is desperate for survival.