State of affairs in the State

By H H Mohrmen

It is said that a week is a long time in politics because a lot can happen in seven days. Indeed stories and the twists and turns to the stories that have developed in the last few days and quite revealing. Take for example the story of the Grand Old Party in the country after the two Congress stalwarts Vincent H Pala and Dr Mukul Sangma met the Congress High Command in Delhi. It looked like everything is settled and the party is ready to hit the streets now to campaign for the bye-elections. Or at least that is the impression that the party was hoping to give to the public in general and the party cadres in particular.
The GOP is not out of
the danger zone yet
But the question that still hangs like a guillotine on the neck of the Congress party in the state is whether Dr Mukul Sangma and Vincent Pala were ultimately able to bury their hatchet. Is everything hunky dory in the party now? Some would say that the high command was able to bring the two leaders to an understanding so it is a win-win situation for both the doyens of the party. The duo’s role and responsibilities in the party have been clearly defined after Pala made it public that he is not interested in joining state politics. But the events that were planned but failed to materialise altogether gave a different twist to the story. For instance the appointment that Dr Sangma made with the Speaker or the Assembly secretariat which was later cancelled tells a different story.
The question that is being asked is, whether it is true that Dr Sangma made a volte-face and did not leave the Congress party because he did not have the required numbers in the House to defect from the party? If that is the case then is it true that he is just buying time before he and his group leave the Congress for good? All parties and organisation have their crisis especially when there are two alpha males in a group of politicians, but it is not like there is no opportunity for conflict resolution. The only thing that is required for the two leaders is to bury their hatchet and sacrifice their personal ambitions for the sake of the Party. Post the bye-election to the three constituencies, the Party needs to embark on a confidence building effort to bring the party to its past glory.
It is also a fact that Pala in his effort to strengthen the Congress is only targeting the old guards of the party. Well there is no harm in bringing experienced hands to rebuild the party and with their maturity and experience they can bring stability. But the party needs to bring in new blood if it is to attract the young voters of the state.
The proof of the pudding like they is in the eating, so the people of the state will have to wait and see the outcome of the Congress’s effort to reorganize itself. The immediate test of the Congress rejuvenation will be the result of the by-elections in the state. Whether the Party is united will be proven if it at least able to retain the two constituencies that it has won earlier.
HNLC influence
gaining ground
The fact that the militant group was able to raise its ugly head in the Khasi Jañtia region of the state is a cause of grave concern for the ordinary citizens. Bombs were placed and some in cases were detonated in different locations and demand notes were served to targeted individuals. The banned organisation has obviously reclaimed its lost ground. How come the organisation which was in a dormant state for so long suddenly came back to the limelight? How is it possible for an organisation which the police had at one point of time condemned as a spent force, all of a sudden get a new lease of life?
The blame is on the MDA government for mishandling the situation. It has failed to capitalise on the gains that the previous government was able to achieve in tackling the menace. It is obvious from the ability of the organisation to plant bombs at strategic locations and serve demand notes to targeted individuals that it has lots of overground worker. The mere fact that HNLC is active should be a cause of concern for those in the government.
The only consolation in the recent development is that the HNLC cadres were caught almost immediately after planting the bombs which indicates that they are fresh hands. The militant group or their supporters who help them were not as well trained and equipped as the organisation cadres during its heydays.
VPP: The new kid in the state political block
Ardent Miller Basaïawmoit in his new political avatar recently introduced to the public a new political party called the Voice of the People Party. Like any new broom the party promises to sweep the political landscape clean and the clean politics campaign is not a new agenda for Ardent. In fact if there is anything that is consistent about Ardent it is his call to clean the political system in the state. The story that did the rounds is also that he is not somebody to squander his had earned money to buy votes or woo voters during election.
When the new party hit the public domain, people wondered why there is a need of having another regional party. In a small state like Meghalaya where we already have not less than three active regional parties, are they not fighting for the same small piece of cake. Is it not a case where regional supporters in the state (which is already a very small percentage of the population) are going to be further divided amongst the regional parties? History also testifies to the fact that regional parties come and go and many have lost their way in the sands of time. Only two regional parties in the state, the UDP and the HSPDP are the parties which have survived the test of time.
The VPP would argue that it is a party with a difference and that was also how it was introduced to the public. The very fact that the only name in the list of leaders of the party who had previous political affiliation is Ardent Basaïawmoit is an effort to sell itself as a party with a difference. Undoubtedly, the fact that many of the leaders of the party are highly educated with many having a doctoral degree is another indication that the party is trying project itself as a party with a difference.
While it is heartening to see that all the leaders of the party at least have one university degree, it is, however, sad that there is no female name in the list of the leaders the party introduced to the public. The fact that no female made it to the list of the leaders of the party only proves that it is no different from the other parties when it comes to respecting the fairer sex in the society. It is obvious now that the party has a long way to go to be a gender inclusive party.
There are many who agree with the fact that the ills in the current political system are mainly because of the kind of influence that money had on the public particularly during the election. Many wish that the state could do away with this illegal practice, but the question is how will the community rid itself of the practice? Now the VPP can say that they are providing an alternative for those who want to see change in the way elections are run by candidates and their parties. The pertinent question is whether this can translate to votes or whether people are going to support the party which promised not to use money during the elections.
(Email: [email protected])

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