The United Democratic Party (UDP) of Meghalaya has made the first step towards joining the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The National People’s Party (NPP) is already on board. The Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), which salvaged its fortune in Assam by aligning with BJP in recent assembly elections and back to power after 15 years, was also formally inducted into the NDA. As the NDA, which sounds more like BJP only, is something the regional parties of North-east would not be keen to be on board immediately, the North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) is going to be the boat to the ship (NDA). The Himanta Biswa Sharma-led NEDA is a very well devised forum by the BJP to take over North-east, a Congress bastion for decades.

The UDP is a dominant political force in Meghalaya’s Khasi-Jaintia Hills having as many as eight MLAs in the 60-member House. If UDP fights the 2018 election on NDA banner there will be an increased tendency among other non-Congress parties too to join the bandwagon. Congress, already out from most parts of the country’s political map, will be in serious trouble then. So far, the BJP’s main bottleneck in intruding into the vote banks of the Christian-dominated hills has been the party’s pro-Hindu image. But once the party breaks into the regional parties and unite them against the Congress, it will be sooner than later the NDA flag fluttering in a few more states.

There has been anti-Congress sentiment all along in the North-east. That’s how regional parties were born. But they come into being and die into oblivion. That has been the thread. There was not common thread to unite them. None of these parties were in favour of BJP either. But with the saffron brigade engulfing the country slowly, there is an increased tendency among the regional parties to grab this chance to be in power. The UDP, thanks to its image of being a Khasi party, cannot think of holding the reins in Shilong in the coming years. This is the case with the National People’s Party (NPP) too. Being founded by Purno Sangma, NPP has a Garo image. UDP’s call to fight election on a common platform in the past did not yield any result. So, NEDA is the chance for every regional party to join the BJP-made platform and sit in the treasury bench, dominated by the Congress all these years.

(Published as editorial in The Meghalaya Guardian on June 24, 2016)

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