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Political parties in Meghalaya on January 18 welcomed the decision of the Election Commission to conduct single-phase election to the 60-member state assembly on February 27. Welcoming the decision, the parties said they expect a free and fair poll process.

Earlier in the day, chief election commissioner Rajiv Kumar announced that the date of polling in Meghalaya would be held on February 27 and counting of votes would be held on March 2.

Chief minister Conrad Sangma welcomed the declaration of election dates by the Election Commission and said the “National People’s Party-led Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) government delivered what we promised.”

“We are confident of retaining power since the people of the state have faith in the NPP,” Sangma who is also national president of NPP, said.

However, the partners of the MDA – Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), United Democratic Party (UDP), Hill State People’s Democratic Party (HSPDP), People’s Democratic Front and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) – will fight the elections against each other.

Moreover, Trinamool Congress (TMC), which is the lone opposition party in the 60-member Meghalaya Legislative Assembly, has decided not to stitch a pre-poll alliance with any political parties.

The grand-old Congress, which won 21 seats in the 2018 assembly elections, currently has no member in the state assembly with majority of its elected legislators have joined the TMC will also fight the upcoming polls on their own.

TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee, who launched her election campaign in Mendipathar assembly constituency in North Garo Hills district, said that Meghalaya will be ruled by Meghalayans and not someone from Delhi or Assam.

Voicing confidence that TMC will form the government in Meghalaya, Banerjee urged electorates “to empower the people, uphold the culture, celebrate the sacred land of Meghalaya, and remove the proxy BJP government, which is corrupt and hasn’t done anything for the people.”

The Congress, which had ruled Meghalaya for several years, currently has no member in the state assembly with majority of its elected legislators having switched sides to the Trinamool Congress, making it the main opposition party in the state, while five suspended Congress MLAs for extending support to the NPP-led MDA has joined the NPP and UDP.

BJP leader Alexander Hek hoped that the election would be free and fair. “People of Meghalaya will vote for the BJP to bring positive changes and overall development. I am confident that BJP will be leading the government in the state,” Hek said.

On the other hand, the UDP, HSPDP and PDF and even the newly formed Voice of the People Party (VPP) voiced confidence that the electors in the state would dethrone the ruling NPP after people have expressed their anger against NPP’s mis-governance.

“We at the UDP are upbeat to win as many seats and will lead the new government since majority of the people are upset with NPP’s poor performance,” UDP general secretary Jemimo Mawthoh said.

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