There is calm – fate of the Lok Sabha election candidates in Meghalaya is now locked in the EVMs. Political leaders are taking some rest from their hectic campaign schedules. Even government employees, especially those deployed in election duty, have heaved a sigh of relief. It’s a big relief for the police force too as the voting passed off peacefully. But, amid this lull one party is spending sleepless nights, indicating a storm ahead. Everything is not alright in the state’s oldest Hill State People’s Democratic Party (HSPDP). The party’s internal crisis came to the fore after its senior leader Fenela Lyngdoh Nonglait, also a niece of party supremo Hopingstone Lyngdoh, voiced her support to United Democratic Party (UDP) candidate Paul Lyngdoh. The crisis turned deeper when Hopingstone overturned a decision made by two party units to cancel her primary membership for the ‘anti-party’ activity.
HSPDP with its four MLAs in the legislative assembly and seven MDCs in the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC) is a force to reckon with in the state’s politics. The crisis would not have happened in the HSPDP had the main opposition party UDP not fielded its working president Paul Lyngdoh as a candidate for the Lok Sabha election. There was hardly any bad blood between the two regional parties till a few months ago although they had failed to strike a pre-poll alliance before the recently-concluded election to the KHADC. After long deliberations and negotiations, they formed the All Regional Parties’ Alliance (ARPA) along with the Khun Hynniewtrep National Awakening Movement (KHNAM) to rule the KHADC. The ARPA boat is now rocking, thanks to Paul’s rivalry with HSPDP vice-president Ardent Basaiawmoit and also with KHNAM, a party formed by the former.
With Basaiawmoit and Paul standing on opposite poles, it has been quite a difficult task for both the parties to reconcile and prevent the ARPA boat from sinking within months of its formation. While HSPDP leading the coalition executive committee (EC) in KHADC would fight till its last breadth to keep the flock together, the two other parties, especially UDP, might not be bothered equally. UDP’s position in the EC would remain the same if it severed ties with HSPDP and embraced Congress, which is sitting in the opposition despite winning the maximum number of seats, three more than HSPDP’s seven MDCs. The fate of ARPA now entirely depends on the HSPDP’s ability to solve its internal rift and the UDP’s next political strategy.
(Published as editorial in The Meghalaya Guardian on April 12, 2014)