The regional parties of Meghalaya are more mature and are ready to govern the state if given the mandate by the voters, Jemino Mawthoh, general secretary of the UDP has told Highland Post.
“Even though I won’t say that we are 100 per cent perfect, regional parties are less controversial and this is the time that there should be an upsurge in regional parties because it is going to be very difficult for the Congress party in the 2023 Meghalaya Assembly election because the backbone of the party is broken and disorganised at the national level,” Mawthoh said.
The UDP has formed an alliance with the HSPDP, dubbed the Regional Democratic Alliance, within the ruling Meghalaya Democratic Alliance coalition. However, the UDP has just seven MLAs and the HSPDP two in the 60-member Assembly.
“I would like to appeal to all the electorate to give us (the UDP) the chance to rule the State and provide direction because we can manage the state better,” Mawthoh, who lost his own seat to the Congress in the 2018 polls, said.
The former legislator said that the argument that regional parties cannot have influence at the national level is false given how well regional parties are doing in other states.
“This is a federal country and if leaders of the State can manage well, provide direction and have the vision to put the State on the road to progress, then it’s very wrong to say that regional parties’ influence extends only up to Khanapara (on the Meghalaya border),” Mawthoh said.
“If we manage the resources and provide good governance to the state then the state will rise and we cannot keep living on the dole of the government of India all the time. It’s time that we think differently and open our eyes and ears because we have not really capitalised on the potential that we have in the state of Meghalaya,” he added.
Meghalaya has several more regional parties, such as the KHNAM and PDF that all largely campaign on the same issues.
Although they have been rivals for years, Mawthoh said that things have changed and now regional parties are more willing to discuss, debate and respect the views of the others.
“I have been initiating this and will initiate it again to bring all the regional parties in the state together. We need to have only one strong regional force in the state and this is our target for 2023,” he said. “I believe that the other regional parties have understood this and we have a very good understanding at present and the only thing left is to converge,” he said.