Friday, June 14, 2024

Is the KHNAM-UDP merger a tragedy of errors?


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By CK Nayak

 New Delhi: Like the All Asom Students’ Union (AASU), the powerful Khasi Students’ Union (KSU) the student front of KHNAM was once dreaded as well as respected with its founder maverick Paul Lyngdoh calling the shots in the State.

Paul even earned the sobriquet of ‘giant killer’ when he defeated a seasoned politician from the United Democratic Party (UDP) AH Scott Lyngdoh. But today with the disputed merger with the UDP the sting seems to have vanished from the party and once powerful student’s wing.

It is an irony that Paul led the merger with UDP from which he withdrew support during the UDP-NCP coalition Government. His slogan of strengthening the regional parties also does not hold any water since the Government he pulled down was led by a regional party with whom he is merging and the other regional party HSPDP was an important partner with Independents.

If one goes by the recent past the decline seems to have started from the day Paul withdrew from the UDP-NCP-led coalition Government. He was made a Minister during Lapang’s tenure but was shown the door by Mukul which apparently did not create any ripples. In between there were tussles over his favoured ministry — Urban Affairs, transfer of the department commissioner and many other factors. Paul was also made spokesman of the Cabinet then but he lost his clout gradually.

The KHNAM decision to merge with the single largest regional party in Meghalaya came after a day-long discussion where proponents and opposing groups traded diplomatic verbal volleys on the ideologies that they wanted to sustain.

In spite of the tough questions raised by those opposing the merger of the KHNAM with the UDP that was spearheaded by the party general secretary Pyndapborthiaw Saiborne, the raising of hands during the call for a voice vote gave the group led by Paul Lyngdoh a healthy majority that the party should merge with the UDP.

Earlier during the deliberations Saiborne was the most vociferous in attacking the proponents of the merger who he said were jettisoning the ideologies of the KHNAM, even as he attacked his president for abandoning the movement and the political party. Paul was challenged by his detractors for pursing a paradoxical ideology to fight Congress even while remaining with it in coalition politics.

He was even dared to pull out from the Congress led-Government immediately.

In his defence Paul said that in the past ten years the KHNAM has failed to sustain the movement so it would be better to be inside an established regional party that would enable the individuals in KHNAM to continue to serve the people.

As a quid pro quo the post of working president cum spokesman, assistant general secretary and chief organizer would go to the KHNAM.

When questioned about the merger, Deputy Chief Minister and UDP working president Bindo Lanong told The Shillong Times that the merger would certainly help the emerging UDP.

He however parried questions on the division within the KHNAM, saying that any merger is bound to leave a few leaders and supporters discontented.


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