The BJP has miles to go in Meghalaya. Though the party has as many as six members in the three autonomous district councils (ADCs) of the state, most of them were not elected on BJP tickets. Thanks to absence of anti-defection law in the ADCs, the members shifted allegiance to the saffron brigade. They gave different reasons, but the most obvious is the tendency to being associated with those in power. The BJP is now calling the shots at the Centre and there is no definite sign of the party losing the 2019 battle. All the more reason for smaller parties and ‘sidelined’ leaders of big parties to associate with the BJP!
In Meghalaya, elections are mostly won by individuals, not parties. Endorsement by bigger party leaders does not help much. The latest example being the defeat of the debacle of chief minister Mukul Sangma’s wife Dikkanchi Shira, who herself is an MLA, in the Tura parliamentary bye-election. Home minister HDR Lyngdoh’s son, and the close aide of Ardent Bassaiwmoit were also defeated in the seats vacated by them in the recent ADC bye-elections. Sanbor Shullai’s nephew retained his uncle’s seat, perhaps, because the voters thought it would be necessary to keep the sitting MLA in good humour!
For the BJP, the tallest leader who campaigned in the ADC bye-elections was the party’s state president Shibun Lyngdoh, who himself is a political novice. He took the plunge just in the 2014 parliamentary elections contesting the Shillong seat. Although his votes were impressive, it’s too early for him to become someone to endorse candidates and influence the voters. In fact, the candidate in War East, the constituency in Shibun’s home region of Jaintia Hills, secured the least 65 votes! Needless to mention, all the seven BJP candidates were considered weak. The only one candidate from Mairang-Nongkhlaw saved the blushes by securing over 6000 votes. All others lose their security deposits! The BJP either has to wait for years to see these new leaders groom or search for stronger personalities to realise the party’s dreams in 2018 assembly elections.
(Published as editorial in The Meghalaya Guardian on December 24, 2016)