Meghalaya Assembly election 2018 promises a lot of changes. It’s going to be a clash between the ruling Congress party and BJP basically. Among others, United Democratic Party (UDP), National People’s Party, and Aam Admi Party will also be in contest. However, the independent parties are expected to cause some differences.
Factors making Meghalaya the most complex state for any political party
• Meghalaya is a state of area 22,429 square KM. As per 2011 statistics, population of Meghalaya is around 27 lakhs. Khashi, Jayantia, Garo, Kuch, Rava, Bodo, etc are the tribal groups of the state residing in mountain zones of the state. Christians count the lion’s part of total population at 75%. Hindus count around 12%, Muslims 4%, Buddhists 0.33%, Sikhs 0.10%, and Jains 0.02%. The zones like East Garo Hills, East Khashi Hills, Jayantia Hills, South Garo Hills, West Garo Hills, and West Khashi Hills, etc have been challenging for the political parties to influence the voters.
• Khashi, Puar, Garo, and English are the governmental languages of the state. In addition, there are various regional languages active in the state. Upon taking a sight on electoral history of the state, there were only 4 parties in 1972. Apart from CPI in first election, the other 3 parties (Congress, All Party Hill Leaders Conference, and Independent) were involved in the process. W.A. Sangma was elected as the chief minister.
• In 1978, Congress got even more powerful by bagging additional 20 seats. The party got stronger by 1983 with 25 seats.
• In 1988, 7 parties came in to sight during election. Congress bagged 32% votes, and formed government with alliance. BJP was not even in scenario by then. BJP started its quest in the state in 1993, but couldn’t even get a single seat.
• By the end of 90s, numerous political parties took birth in the state. To be specific, HSPDP, APHLC, Hill People’s Union, and Meghalaya Progressive Peoples Party were influential.
• In 1998, Congress won in 25 seats; UD remained at second bagging 20 seats. Goro National Council got only one seat.
• Taking a look at the past two assembly election, Congress can indeed be stated as a powerful party in the state of 60 seats.
• The state has witnessed 11 chief ministers in this brief political past, which clearly depicts its political complexity. Sangma among all these ministers was indeed the most influential. Sangma was the CM of the state from 1976 to 78. Though he initially joined politics through All Party Hill Leader Conference, but later jumped to Congress. Mukul Sangma is the current CM of the state.
• However, BJP is the strongest ever in its history in the state this time. To be specific, Amit Shah’s tour in recent past to West Garo zones was quite influential. He had highlighted PM Modi’s North East development programs. Centre has announced 70 crore aid for the development of spiritual and tourism sites of the state.
• Congress has been enjoying stronger hilt over the state due to its influence on Christians. BJP can indeed create some difference if it manages to divert these votes. In fact, these Christian voters have been the game changers.
On a whole, with so many languages, tribal groups, and independent contestants, Meghalaya has been always challenging for the political parties to drag voters. Especially, you can’t easily influence one group to win an election.