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Meghalaya

Meghalaya, which means "The Abode of Clouds", is one of the smallest states in India. Meghalaya, a Christian majority state, was set to go to polls on 27 February and the results were to be announced on 3 March. Despite winning just two seats in Meghalaya, BJP took the lead in forming government. The BJPs stunning show in the northeast rattled its rivals in West Bengal and Keralatwo states the party has long been eyeing.

In the 2013 elections in Meghalaya, where the Congress had been in power through one alliance or another since 1976, it had polled more than one-third (34.8%) of the votes. This is now down 6.3 percentage points to 28.5%. In the 2013 elections in Meghalaya, where the Congress had been in power through one alliance or another since 1976, it had polled more than one-third (34.8%) of the votes. This is now down 6.3 percentage points to 28.5%. Although the Congress has emerged as the single largest party in the February 2018 election, the BJP with two seats (it had none in 2013) has forged an alliance with the National Peoples Party (NPP), United Democratic Party, Hill State Peoples Democratic Party and the Peoples Democratic Front to form the government in the Meghalaya. Its vote share has grown 8.3 percentage points from 1.27% to 9.6%.

Even before the Election Commission of India could declare the election dates for Meghalaya, political parties had been in election mode for almost two months now. The State Chief Minister, Mukul Sangma has been inaugurating several new projects with gusto without spelling out the sources of revenue for completion of such projects. Meghalaya tourism would soon witness a huge boost prior to Assembly elections in the state. K.J.Alphons, the Union Minister of State for Tourism announced INR 70 crore tourism package in order to expand the spiritual and religious tourism circuits in Meghalaya. The announcement came ahead of Assembly elections in Meghalaya.

The big question facing the Meghalaya electorate was whether it wanted to stick to the stability provided by the Congress, as State Chief Minister Sangma hoped, or whether, tired and desiring change, it wants to vote him out, as the Opposition was hoping. The Congress, which is in power in Meghalaya for about 15 years, is facing anti-incumbency problem while the BJP is struggling to win the hearts of people. The Congress faced a major jolt in December 2017, when five of its MLAs resigned from the Assembly and joined the NPP and two other legislators moved to the BJP and the newly formed People's Democratic Front. The UDP had secured the second spot with 8 seats in the 2013 assembly election. The Congress that bagged 29 seats in the polls had formed government with the support of 13 independents and two NCP MLAs.

The National People's Party (NPP) was contesting only 53 of 60 seats without the BJP as its ally as the party planned to expand its base in the Northeast. The NPP is an ally of the NDA, which is a part of the Narendra Modi government at the Centre. The NPP is an ally of the BJP government in Manipur too. Quite a few regional parties are in the fray. Besides the United Democratic Party (UDP) and theHill State Peoples Democratic Party (HSPDP), there is Garo National Council and then there was this new party, the Peoples Democratic Front.

The United Democratic Party (UDP) forged pre-poll alliances with regional parties Hills State Peoples Democratic Party (HSPDP) and Garo National Council(GNC). The UDP happens to be a constituent of North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), led by the BJP.

The Meghalaya Government Construction Corporation, the Meghalaya Tourism Development Corporation, Meghalaya Resource and Employment Generation Council among others have been used by the ruling dispensation to accommodate retired bureaucrats or failed politicians who have been conformists during their tenures in government. All these institutions require funds and infrastructure for their maintenance. The Planning Boards have become employment agencies for senior politicians who enjoy the perks of office at the cost of the public exchequer.

The entire character of State power is elite dominated. The block offices that are the nodal point for the implementation of poverty alleviation programs are visited only by a handful, those who are closely connected to political parties. Thus the actual poor continue to remain on the periphery of such programmes, the benefits of which are being cornered by dominant groups in the rural areas. Tribal society in Meghalaya may be socially egalitarian but it is fast becoming economically highly differentiated.



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