The cat is well and truly out of the bag now, with Nongkrem MLA Lambor Malngiang confirming that he will be fielded by the United Democratic Party (UDP) at the next state elections.
Malngiang won in 2018 from Nongkrem as an independent by fewer than 100 votes. Since then, former Deputy Chief Minister and the UDP’s oldest serving member, Bindo Lanong, had set his sights on the seat, having twice lost from East Shillong.
The party he has dedicated the last 25 years of his life to, however, has apparently seen fit to cast its lot with the sitting legislator for the polls, which must be held by March 2023.
The UDP has not formally released the names of its candidates but, speaking to reporters after meeting party president and Speaker of the Assembly Metbah Lyngdoh today, Malngiang said, “It would not be good to hide anymore.”
He added that he and his supporters have agreed to contest under the UDP’s banner and the Nongkrem circle of the UDP has recommended him to the party leadership. His supporters will soon be welcomed into the UDP fold.
Lanong had been trying to court the public of Nongkrem for several years and has been left bitter at being sidelined for a relative newcomer, especially one who has shown no loyalty to any one party in the past.
He has publicly blamed Lyngdoh and UDP general secretary Jemino Mawthoh for rejecting him and even told Highland Post recently that he was considering running against the UDP at the next election. Reportedly, Lanong has been told that the UDP will give him a ticket only for his old stomping ground of East Shillong, the election to which he lost in 2013 and 2018.
Meanwhile, the party has a different problem in Mawphlang, where the sitting MLA Eugeneson Lyngdoh is not keen on contesting again. Lyngdoh, a star former footballer, was swept into the Assembly last year after winning a by-election to replace his father, SK Sunn, who died of Covid-19. He has not been a legislator for even 12 months yet but he has not warmed to it either; it was definitely more of filling his father’s shoes rather than something he wanted to do personally. However, given his huge popularity with the masses, the party leadership is desperately trying to get Lyngdoh to change his mind.