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Regional parties in the North-east lack in professionalism which is of utmost need for the growth of any party. Thanks to this factor, a lot of regional parties are non-existent and some have become non-entities. Regional parties such as Asom Gana Parishad, Mizo National Front, Manipur People’s Party, Hills State People’s Democratic Party (of Meghalaya) started with a bang. Each of these parties ruled their respective states for at least two times, albeit some of the tenures were embarrassingly short. The parties are in such a position that their existence is in serious threat, let alone any remote possibility of holding the reins once again. Reasons for the regional parties’ downfall could be traced to their failure in providing wider vision to the party cadres as well as the public.

The United Democratic Party (UDP) shared power twice with other parties in Meghalaya. But, current strength of the party stands at eight in the 60-member Assembly. Yet, it is the main opposition party being the second biggest after Congress’ 29 legislators. Despite fielding around one dozen candidates among the 24 constituencies in Garo Hills, the region still remained non-receptive to the party. The UDP, founded in 1997, is still seen as a party of Khasi-Jaintia Hills. The party’s hope for making inroads into Garo Hills sometime suffered a severe blow as party’s in-charge for Garo Hills, Rocky R Marak, resigned from the post on November 12. One of the reasons cited by him behind the drastic step is the party’s negligence towards vital issues of Garo Hills. He revealed that the UDP never sent a delegation to see the plight of flood-hit people in Garo Hills!

Such utter apathy towards almost half of the state can never be healthy for a political party led by former chief minister Donkupar Roy. The disaster in Garo Hills this time caused unprecedented damage. For the first time the country’s home minister (Rajnath Singh) visited any flood-hit zone of the region. Over 50 lives were lost and property worth hundreds of crores damaged. Chief minister Mukul Sangma rightly said the floods pushed the region backward by nearly a decade. Under such circumstances, the region surely deserved a visit from the state’s main opposition party. The party’s job does not end in demanding resignation of cabinet minister Deborah Marak for her alleged nexus with militants. It’s a pity that the party leadership could not yet send a high-level team to oversee the flood damage in Garo Hills.

(Published as editorial in The Meghalaya Guardian on November 14, 2014)

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