The ruling National People’s Party (NPP) has emerged as the single largest party in the Meghalaya assembly winning 26 seats just short of five seats to cross the halfway mark in the 60-member house.
The hung assembly would mean that the NPP would have to cobble up support from other ‘like-minded’ political parties.
The NPP swept the Garo Hills region winning 17 out of the 24 seats there.
Chief minister and NPP supremo Conrad Sangma, who led the campaign from the front in across the state won the prestigious South Tura seat defeating his nearest BJP rival, Bernard Marak by 2,830 votes.
The party won four seats in Jaintia Hills, two seats each in Ri-Bhoi and East Khasi Hills, but drew a blank in the West Khasi Hills region. In the Khasi-Jaintia-Ri-Bhoi region, there were 35 seats. The election to one seat (Sohoing) was adjourned following the death of a candidate.
Prominent NPP leaders who won the election are deputy chief minister Prestone Tynsong, Sniawbhalang Dhar, Thomas Sangma, Timothy Shira, Abu Taher Mondol, Comingone Ymbon, Ampareen Lyngdoh and others.
However, the NPP faced an upset with the power minister and elder brother of the chief minister, James Sangma losing from the Dadengre constituency by mere 7 votes to Trinamool Congress (TMC) candidate Rupa Marak. Dasakhitbha Lamare lost the Nongkrem seat coming in third. The seat was won by a new entrant, Voice of the People Party’s (VPP), Ardent Basaiawmoit.
Khublei, Mitela and Thank You Meghalaya for your faith in the NPP 🙏🏼 pic.twitter.com/ZF6CyN2eoa
— Conrad K Sangma (@SangmaConrad) March 2, 2023
“We thank people for voting for the NPP, we are short of numbers (to cross the halfway mark.) We will wait for the final result and then decide (on forming a coalition government,)” an elated chief minister Conrad Sangma said.
When asked about the formation of the new government, Conrad Sangma replied: “We are meeting now to discuss about the combination of the new government.” Conrad told UNI over the phone.
The BJP which was expecting to make impressive gains in the just concluded assembly have to be contended with its two legislators Alexander Laloo Hek and Sanbor Shullai retaining their Pynthorumkhrah and South Shillong assembly respectively.
Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma told UNI over the phone that the BJP would support the NPP in forming the next government in Meghalaya.
The Congress, which had finished as the single largest party in the previous election held five years back, won in five assembly seats.
Meghalaya Pradesh Congress Committee president and sitting Lok Sabha member Vincent Pala lost on his home turf Sutnga-Saipung to NPP’s Santa Mary Shylla by 2,019 votes. Shylla polled 15,414 votes against Pala’s 13,395 votes.
All 21 Congress legislators elected in 2018 had crossed over to other parties in the intervening years. The TMC was virtually born out of deserters from Congress.
The TMC which drew blank in Tripura suffered a major setback for Meghalaya despite the TMC going into a blitzkrieg campaign, but couldn’t live up to its own expectation.
In fact, its leader and former chief minister Mukul Sangma lost one of the two seats he contested. Mukul retained Songsak seat, while the NPP candidate Jimmy Sangma defeated the TMC leader in the Tikrikilla assembly seat. The former chief minister Mukul Sangma’s wife, Dikkanchi Shira and brother Zenith Sangma lost the polls.
Interestingly, new entrant, VPP performed exceedingly well winning 4 seats, out of the 18 seats it contested.
The party’s performance was outstanding considering its low-key door-to-door campaign in deviation from the high decibel campaign of some of the major parties of the state.
In fact, the highest victory margin of all candidates was of the VPP candidate from Mawlai constituency, Brightstarwell Marbaniang in which he defeated his nearest NPP rival by over 15000 votes.
The BJP and Trinamool Congress performed below expectations winning just 2 and 5 seats respectively. For the BJP its sitting MLAs Sanbor Shullai (South Shillong) and AL Hek (Pynthormukhrah) retained their seats and so couldn’t improve on its 2018 results despite contesting from all 59 seats.
The United Democratic Party, an ally in the previous NPP-led Meghalaya Democratic Alliance government won 11, all in the Khasi-Jaintia-Ri-Bhoi region. The Hill State People’s Democratic Party, People’s Democratic Front and Independents won two seats each.