Congress still fighting fit
The recently concluded GHADC elections have disappointed those in the ruling conglomerate – the NPP, UDP, BJP who believed they were going to sweep the polls. The people of Garo Hills chose to vote for individuals instead of Party. They elected those they felt deserved their trust. True that money power could not be completely defeated but it had to a certain extent when the people of Chokpot roughed up the former MDC who was also the former Deputy CEM of the outgoing Council for trying to bribe them with cash. The outgoing Council led by the NPP had indulged in blatant misdemeanours by allotting contracts to people close to the Party. These misdemeanours were brought to light by an RTI done by the BJP which is to the tune of Rs 100 crore. Projects that were allocated funds are all hanging fire even while the money has been disbursed. Employees of the GHADC numbering over 1700, were not paid salaries for over three years which is unprecedented.
This saga of corruption has been widely discussed by the media and the BJP had made this the crux of their campaign in the run-up to the GHADC polls. Although the BJP and the UDP are both coalition partners in the present Government, they all fought on separate planks in the Council polls and hammered at each other. No pains were spared by the BJP to publicly speak about the scams in the Council and the need to clean up the ugly mess. No wonder the NPP distanced itself from the two elected BJP MDCs while forming the Executive Council on Saturday. The BJP thought that its support would be needed because the NPP would not have enough MDCs on its own. As it turns out the NPP got 11 seats and made up for the shortage by aligning with the 3 Independent and one GNC MDC.
What’s interesting about the GHADC election is that it could be a foretaste of the 2023 state assembly elections. Going by this calculation, the Congress has emerged as the single largest Party winning 12 out of 29 seats in the Council. What’s also of interest is the public statement by a senior minister of the present MDA Government that the Congress cannot be written off and that former Chief Minister and Congress leader, Dr Mukul Sangma is still in the reckoning in the Garo Hills. The Congress is no stranger to the UDP. The two parties are past allies and have a working relationship. In the 2018 assembly election, Congress had won 20 seats which are now reduced to 16 on account of resignation of one MLA and death of three others for which bye-elections to two seats are pending.
In politics there are no permanent friends or enemies. And going by the public disillusionment on the performance of the NPP-led MDA Government there is likelihood that there will be a vote for change in 2023. The UDP in its wisdom is keeping all options open.