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Meghalaya Elections: A hotch-potch outcome

Albert Thyrniang


To look for and expect on Feb 27+

There is election euphoria everywhere. Election fever has gripped the state. The social media has contributed to the excitement and has enabled us to have a glimpse at the show of strength of candidates and political parties at the time of filing of nomination and major rallies. Though mainly rhetoric of charges and counter charges we can still listen to them. Naturally all candidates are buoyant about their chances of winning though only 60 of the 440 candidates will be the fortunate ones. All parties are confident of forming the next government either singly or in coalition. Let me put down in black and what I look for and expect on February 27 and following the exciting days.


Giant killers

I like underdogs. The world still remembers the thrill of the 2002 FIFA World Cup opening match on 31 May in which the little known Senegal beat defending Champions, France 1–0.  Which Indian will forget the historic upset triumph of the Indian Cricket over mighty West Indies on June 25, 1983? Less than two seasons ago the foot-balling world witnessed the fairy tale of unheralded Leicester City FC lifting the English Premier League leaving all giants like Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur behind. Last year new comer Aizawl FC too did the impossible by surprisingly winning the I-League.

Giant killing certainly takes place in politics. In every election giant killers emerge. This election too I look forward to giant killers. I look forward to upsets and wins. It would be exciting if a lesser known, a poorer, less influential, even a younger (newer) candidate defeats a well-known, rich, powerful and dated candidate.   It would be sensational if an underdog relegates a heavy weight to the second or third position. This is not just for the thrill of it but it is good for democracy. It will restore a sense of sanity to the crazy situation we are in today, where only crorepatis can contest and win election. It will categorically and unequivocally debunk the reality that that politics is meant only for the rich. It tells us there is some sort of level playing field. It will be a lesson that nothing can be taken for granted. It reinforces the fact that change is possible. More importantly, it will give hope that merit can triumph over rich cash, power, influence and even dynasty.

Communal forces to come a cropper

In spite of tall talks the saffron party will come a cropper. The negative sentiments in other parts of India, the anti-Christian activities outside the state, the central government’s anti-Christian decisions, the waning Modi popularity, the less than spectacular achievement of the central government, the attempt of Christian appeasement and the latest denial of visa to a Christian pastor to visit Garo Hills will be the reasons for a miserable show. The communal party’s initial favour of sweeping the polls in the state by dint of being in power in Delhi and the Modi effect will come to a near naught.

Meghalaya is not for saffronization. Hindutva is not meant for Meghalaya. Meghalaya cannot accept policies of right-wing nationalists ‘that seek to glorify only ancient Hindu culture and history. Meghalaya cannot go the Gujrat or UP or Rajasthan or even the Assam way. Recently it was reported that the Assam Legislative Assembly was “saffronised” as its premises was decorated only with saffron colour. Last month the RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, while addressing ‘the biggest’ RSS rally in Guwahati, said that ‘Hinduism’ unites all people thus making India a Hindu nation. There are allegations that the RSS is controlling the chief secretary, director general of police and top officials in Assam. It is quite certain the Meghalaya electorate will keep saffronization, Hindutva, the RSS and communal forces at bay.

Hinduism, of course, has been a home in Meghalaya and will always be so but not the brand of Hinduism propagated by the RSS and the other right wing groups (read Hindutva). Hinduism can be considered the most peaceful and tolerant religion. One of the bases of Hinduism is Ahimsa or non-violence. It does not permit violence to living beings but more so to human beings. Hindutva is just the opposite or at least it is portrayed to be so. We see the opposite of Hinduism in fundamentalists and fanatics. We see lynching, killing, violent protests, hate speeches, false nationalism, attempts to change history, etc. We see silence from the Prime Minister when fringe elements publicly raise their ugly heads, thus amounting to complicity. Right thinking Hindus say non-adherents of Ahimsa are not Hindus. The strength of Hinduism lies within not with fundamentalists and fanatics.


Winnability over merit

Notwithstanding one or two giant killers, one expects winnability (whatever that means) to triumph over merit. The corrupt, the tainted, the ideology-less, the criminal case holders, the non-performers, the illiterate may thrash the clean, the ideologically sound, the qualified, the educated and the capable candidates at the ballot box. In short, by and large, winnable candidates will prevail over meritorious contestants.


All parties to fall short of expectation

Contrary to optimistic claims by leaders of political parties, all will fall short of expectation. No party will secure a majority – simple or absolute. No one will cross the 31 magical mark. For obvious reason all have overestimated themselves. But in their heart of hearts they know more or less the final outcome. A few social media users have conducted ‘polls’ and ‘survey’ for their parties. One such enthusiastic guy predicted 36 seats for an alliance based on his polls. He was trolled badly because his alliance is putting up candidates only in 40 odd constituencies. Only four losers from that alliance! Amazing! Forget 36, even 31 out of 40 will never happen. It is certainly a case of overrating oneself. The unrealistic expectation of all parties will fall far short of their goals. All the ‘go solo’ claims will fall flat on February 27.


Post poll national-regional alliance

Therefore, it leaves us with only one option – post poll national-regional alliance. Though in politics there are no permanent friends or enemies the Congress and the BJP will never come together. The Congress and the NPP coalition is ruled out because, again it is unthinkable that Mukul and Conrad will work together. The BJP and NPP is a natural combination as the duo are partners in Manipur and Rajasthan and the NPP plays a supporting role at the centre.  The BJP/UDP-HSPDP/NPP alliance might be possible but there will be too much of ego clash with so many personalities involved. A Congress and UDP/HSPDP alliance too cannot be ruled out. However, in all these amalgamations, the party spokespersons will have to justify to the public their well-documented denial of any nexus among themselves. The pre-scripted justification is expected to be, ‘for the sake of the state’ narrative.

Before one forgets, the independents will be crucial. They could be the king makers. In case of a hung Assembly they could be kept ‘hostage’ in 5 star hotels. Black cash and plum portfolios will be offered. Leaders of political parties from Delhi will have to outsmart each other before formation of a new government. Will the BJP repeat its tricks like it did in Goa and Manipur? Or will the Congress have learnt its lessons and leave its bitter rivals fuming? Two groups will stake claim to form a government. They could even parade their MLAs in Raj Bhavan. The governor could be accused of being partisan. The next government could come with a very heavy price. 


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