The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) showed itself to be unable to maintain a consistent narrative with mixed messages being the order of the day as its big name candidates filed their nomination papers for the February 27 election here today.
Huge BJP cavalcades were seen winding their way towards the Deputy Commissioner’s office, with large crowds of supporters waving flags, singing songs and clogging up the roads; it was only with the greatest of effort that an ambulance managed to get through the masses at one point.
Union Minister Dr Jitendra Singh came out to support the party’s candidates as their filed their paperwork but he seemed to contradict the state BJP line when he described Meghalaya as a model of development; it has been the consistent line by the state party unit that the Meghalaya Democratic Alliance government has been guilty of massive levels of malfeasance.
A mini row broke out between the BJP’s two sitting MLAs as well. AL Hek, the Pynthorumkhrah legislator, projected himself as the party’s Chief Ministerial candidate if it should do well in these elections. However, that irked South Shillong legislator Sanbor Shullai, who described that as a presumptuous statement on the part of his colleague.
Among other party bigwigs who filed their nominations today were state BJP president Ernest Mawrie for West Shillong and Mariahom Kharkrang for North Shillong.
Speaking to reporters, Dr Singh said, “Before Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in 2014, we did not have much railway connectivity here and even a proper airport but now a miraculous transformation has taken place in Meghalaya.”
His comments were surprising as Meghalaya only has one functional railway line and its sole airport is limited to small turboprop aeroplanes.
On the allegations of corruption in the MDA, of which the BJP was a member for the full five-year term, Dr Singh said that whenever the party found something disagreeable taking place, a course correction was made.
As is normally the case, other parties have consistently hit out at the BJP for the perception that it is against minority religions, which could prove a hurdle in Christian-majority Meghalaya. On this, Dr Singh said that, in fact, no party other than the BJP has done more for Christians or any other segment of the population.
Shullai, meanwhile, was asked about the “anti-Christian” tag and rubbished it.
“It is just an allegation. There are no atrocities against Christians in Meghalaya. The BJP, as a party, is ready to be at the forefront and to go to Delhi to fight for the justice and safety of the Christians,” Shullai said.
He also said that these elections will be a cakewalk as he is not going to face strong competitors, with the National People’s Party (NPP) choosing not to run against him.
The cabinet minister also criticised Hek for claiming that if the BJP is voted to power then Hek will be CM face. Shullai said that no one can say that since the BJP is a national party and everything is decided by the high command.
Hek had earlier said that the people of his constituency want him to be seen as the BJP’s face for CM.
Hek will be contesting against his nephew, the NPP’s Rocky Hek, Congress candidate PN Syiem and independent Samborlang Diengdoh, who was earlier the Trinamool Congress choice.
Hek was cabinet minister for around two and a half years when he made way for Shullai. Today he said that there has been a lot of corruption under the NPP. “If you go to a taxi stand or tea stall they will tell you about the high level corruption in the state,” he stated.
Asked about the allegations made by his nephew that there has been no development during his tenure of 25 years, he said, “Any opponent fighting elections, those who can see they make them blind, those who are capable to walk they make them lame that is the role of the opponent.”
Hek also assured that if BJP forms the next government then all scams will be investigated by the CBI and no one will be spared.
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