Ardent Basaiawmoit has little chance of quitting, as he had hinted recently, after the United Democratic Party (UDP) giving him a ‘second chance’. The chief executive member (CEM) of the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC) survived the huge revolt within the ruling All Regional Parties’ Alliance (ARPA), thanks to his ‘public support’. The UDP’s decision to give him another chance might have been influenced by Basaiawmoit’s announcement that he was going to speak his heart out to the people at a public meeting on September 19. Though the meeting is still on schedule, the suspense over a ‘big announcement’ from Basaiawmoit is already over. However, politics is always unpredictable. He might have a different plan. What is likely to happen under normal circumstances may not be his best bargain. So, waiting for the outcome of the meeting is the best idea at the moment.
The main reason behind UDP’s mounting pressure on Basaiawmoit is that the party is on a safe ground in the KHADC. It has six members of district council (MDCs) while Basaiawmoit’s Hill State People’s Democratic Party (HSPDP) has just one more, making the latter leader of the ARPA. On the other hand, the Congress despite having 11 MDCs is still sitting in the opposition, following the regional parties’ vow to keep the national party at bay. However, no ideology can stay permanent in politics, especially in Meghalaya. The Congress needs the support of just another five MDCs to wrest power in the KHADC. If UDP lends its support, the party will still remain a junior partner and lose nothing.
Break-ups in ruling coalitions happened many a time in the state government and the three ADCs as well. Both UDP and HSPDP came out of the Meghalaya Progressive Alliance (MPA) in 2009 to join hands with Congress, just one year after formation of the coalition government with Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). History can repeat itself in the district council. Although UDP has its ‘options’ open, the party is worried about Basaiawmoit’s support base. The KHADC chief being seen as a strong voice for protection of rights of the indigenous people, the UDP might have thought this was not the right moment to break up the regional parties’ alliance and throw red carpet to the Congress. But keep your fingers crossed, till the September-19 meeting which will give a clearer picture.
(Published as editorial in The Meghalaya Guardian on September 19, 2014)