Infighting costs Congress dear

SHILLONG/ NEW DELHI, Nov 2: The Congress made no bones about admitting that infighting was one of the main reasons behind its debacle in the by-elections to the three seats.
“We cannot deny that infighting is one of the main reasons for this debacle but we must not forget the big role money is playing in Meghalaya politics,” Congress leader, Ampareen Lyngdoh told reporters shortly after the results were announced on Tuesday.
Stating that the party went to the nook and corner of the constituencies and saw under-development there, Lyngdoh said the margins of defeat were a clear indicator that money played a big role.
“I know the NPP, or for that matter any other party, will say why we don’t file an FIR. But there is no point filing it as nobody will come up and expose their corrupt practices,” she said.
Despite the ruling dispensation’s “bigger game” to cause the division of Congress votes, the party managed to poll around half the votes and therefore, it has not suffered a severe setback as such, Lyngdoh said.
She said the Congress MLAs and the MDCs should take this as a learning experience as the plan of the “ruling side” was to ensure that the MLAs and the MDCs, who had shifted allegiance, win and allow other parties to defeat the Congress elsewhere.
Asked if the results will trigger an exodus of Congress MLAs to other political parties, Lyngdoh said the Congress cannot be termed history, for it lost the bypoll by narrow margins and not by thousands of votes.
“We will not deny that some will go but many will also come back and maybe, the state deserves fresh faces in politics,” she said.
She lauded Congress supporters for reposing their faith in the party despite “temptations”.
Stating that it may take a couple of years for the Congress to get revived, Lyngdoh said the party will not give up and reinvent itself before the Assembly elections of 2023.
Meanwhile, despite defeat, the Congress’ central leaders are taking solace from the fact that the party’s vote share increased.
“Our leaders and cadres worked hard but we lost due to division of votes owing to the rebel candidates,” a top Congress office bearer in-charge of polls said.
Some Block Congress leaders had deserted the party at the eleventh hour due to infighting among MDCs and that sliced its vote share, the Congress leader said requesting anonymity.
Pradesh Congress Committee president Vincent H Pala, who is currently abroad, is likely to meet AICC interim president, Sonia Gandhi following his return and discuss the results.
Asked why party leaders-turned-rebels were not given tickets, the Congress leader said they were supported by the party’s one faction or the other but they would have lost in any case.
“It is tolerable that we lost in Garo Hills too or else, factional fights at the top level would have worsened,” he said.
“We see a balance of power at the top level because of this scenario,” the Congress leader said, hinting at Pala and CLP leader, Mukul Sangma.
Dr Sangma did not campaign for the two party candidates in Khasi Hills.
“Despite being the CLP leader, he did not come to the meeting even to formally introduce the candidates to the public,” another top leader said.
There were attempts of “sabotage” by a top office bearer of state Congress in Mawryngkneng. When it became known, he was replaced at the last moment by a new one to deal with the polls in that crucial seat, the Congress leader said.
There were virtually two Congress candidates – one official and one rebel, the leader said. Though none of them could be elected, they ensured the defeat of the “party candidates”.
The huge voters’ turnout was a clear indication of people’s anger against the government, the leader claimed, adding, “But we could not capitalize on it because of our own divided house.”
Mawryngkneng was more important than Mawphlang for the party as the former fell vacant following the demise of party MLA, David A Nongrum. The Congress was banking on sympathy votes but it had other hurdles, including infighting, the Congress leader said.
He felt the results will not have any bearing in the Assembly polls.

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