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Meghalaya returns a fractured mandate

The Meghalaya election results surprised no one. We expected a fractured mandate and we got one.  The two national parties – the Congress and National Peoples’ Party (NPP) this time ended in a photo finish. There may be questions why the NPP is being referred to as a national party. Well, the Party has MLAs in Rajasthan, Manipur, Nagaland and Meghalaya and if PA Sangma its founder had lived longer the NPP would have traversed to every part of this country. PA Sangma’s vision in creating the NPP was to consolidate tribals from across the country under one political framework and ensure that the party has a national presence. Considering that most political parties serve very narrow ethno-centric interests the NPP has managed to cross those borders and give itself a ‘national’ face.

There were surprise wins and unfortunate reversals in this election. The most vocal members of the House have had to bite the dust. They have been outdone by the superior money power of their rivals. The people have elected MLAs who will remain silent for the next five years because, in the first place, they contested not to serve a public cause but their business interests. The wealth ranking of these politicians says it all.  There are MLAs who have used their MLA local area development funds to develop the constituency. Voters don’t care about the larger good. They want instant gratification in the form of money in the month-long campaign period. The surprise win in so-called enlightened constituencies of Shillong also lays bare the fact that people suspend reason while voting. Indeed voter behaviour has defied even the best of psychologists. For now, suffice it to say that money was what won the elections in Meghalaya in most cases. On rare occasions some candidates and voters have defied this norm.

For now Meghalaya awaits a new government. What form and shape that government takes and whether it has a collective, progressive vision for the people of this State is a matter of conjecture for now.

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