There is just over a day to go before the results of Monday’s Meghalaya Assembly vote are made known, but that still means plenty of time to speculate on who will emerge as the big victors from the polls.
Every exit poll released yesterday predicted a hung Assembly, with the National People’s Party (NPP) set to be the biggest party.
However, almost every party seems to disagree with the findings. The NPP, for example, is confident that it will cross the halfway line on its own.
Senior figure in the United Democratic Party (UDP), Allantry F Dkhar, however, predicted that the NPP could be in for a shock in Garo Hills.
According to at least some exit polls, Dkhar said, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) could pinch a few seats away from the NPP in Garo Hills.
This could upset the entire NPP applecart, or at least that of the Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma and his family. If the NPP loses ground in Garo Hills but performs well in Khasi-Jaiñtia Hills, then there could be pressure for the next CM to come from the eastern region.
The UDP is expecting to become a major player if not the leading party in the state, with Dkhar predicting at least 15 seats; the party won six in 2018 but, thanks to a number of defections in its favour, fielded 12 incumbents in Monday’s polls.
If there is a need for another coalition government, the UDP will aim to lead it and Dkhar promised that it would do a better job governing the state than any national party could.
NPP state president and Rajya Sabha MP Wanweiroy Kharlukhi is not too worried for his party, on the other hand.
While the NPP was battered by charges of corruption by the opposition as well as its own allies, Kharlukhi said that these were a non-issue as the allegations were all part of the normal electioneering process.
What the exit polls also agreed on is that the Congress will not be a major force, though it should still manage a few seats here and there.
“The day Mukul Sangma decided to go to the TMC, the Congress lost its space in Meghalaya,” Kharlukhi said, referring to Dr Sangma’s defection with 11 other MLAs to form the TMC in 2021.
That defection will not do the TMC much good, the MP predicted, as he expects the party to only win five or six seats.
Meanwhile, both Dkhar and Kharlukhi did not feel that the Bharatiya Janata Party will do all that well, though they admitted to the possibility of the saffron party upping its share of seats. In 2018 the BJP won two but fielded six incumbents thanks to defections ahead of the polling day.
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