Sunday, July 14, 2024

Regional parties in disarray


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So the inevitable has finally happened. The Regional Democratic Alliance (RDA) comprising the United Democratic Party and the Hill State Peoples’ Democratic Party (HSPDP) is set for a split and both parties will go it alone in the ensuing District Council Elections. This follows the poor performance of the joint candidate that the RDA put up – Robert Kharjahrin in the just concluded Lok Sabha election. While the HSPDP President is vacillating in stating the fact, UDP Working President, Paul Lyngdoh unequivocally admitted that the HSPDP is opting out of the RDA and is seeking to fight the District Council election on its own.
For both the UDP and HSPDP the recent defeat of their candidate who came a poor fourth securing only 44,563 votes out of a total of 10, 37,911 votes was a disaster. This clearly shows that the RDA candidate could not win the confidence of voters for various reasons. As Paul Lyngdoh correctly assessed, Dr Ricky AJ Syngkon of the Voice of Peoples’ Party (VPP) had started campaigning well before the election dates could even be announced. This meant the VPP was sure who they were fielding. So they had a head start over the other parties. Even the NPP candidate Ampareen Lyngdoh had been campaigning at least three months before the elections. Congress candidate, Vincent Pala too knew he was contesting much before the official announcement from the Party. The RDA on the other hand announced the candidature of Robert Kharjahrin rather late making it difficult for him to cover much ground. When there is an alliance of more than one party it is always difficult to get a consensus candidate agreeable to all sides. This has been the tragic history of regional parties in Meghalaya. Their repeated attempts to merge have failed.
Now that the Autonomous District Council elections are close at hand, it is obvious that the UDP and HSPDP would want to control their own turf. A common candidate for the Lok Sabha is easier to decide since the HSPDP with only 2 MLAs does not enjoy much clout in the rest 34 constituencies. In a sense the HSPDP was piggy-back riding on the UDP which has 12 MLAs. It is unsure if the HSPDP would be able to field and win any seats in 2028 going by the attrition rate of the Party. It is almost certain that like the PDF the HSPDP too would finally merge with the NPP which is a stronger party with a state presence. However, until the ADC elections the HSPDP will try to go it alone with the hope that it can have some control over the affairs of the state rather than surrender to an alliance. This has been the bane of regional parties in Meghalaya and it does not look as if this complex issue will be resolved any time soon.

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