Challenges ahead for the BJP in Meghalaya

By HH Mohrmen

The result of the general elections to the Shillong parliamentary Constituency in 2014 was a major surprise even for the Bharatya Janata Paty MP candidate because he did not expect to garner those  many votes. I know this because I was with Shibun Lyngdoh at the DC’s office in Jowai when the results of the last Lok Sabha elections were declared. From his expression it was obvious that he did not expect to get so many votes, because in the last election the party was still at its nascent stage. And since then with the BJP at the helm of power in Delhi, it has been smooth sailing for the party in Meghalaya. No doubt the landslide win at the Centre also gave impetus to the growth of the party in the state.

 There is no denying the fact that in the last election, the BJP candidate from Shillong Parliamentary constituency was basking in the glory of the Modi wave because Shibun himself was then a new entrant and a non-entity to politics in the state. Lyngdoh has neither contested the Legislative Assembly or the Parliamentary election before the 2014 general election. He was a businessman and it is not unusual that the business of a businessman in Khliehriat is none other than the coal business. But to his credit Shibun has been able to build the party from scratch until it became a major contender (or so it looks) in the last election to the state Assembly.

Then the Assembly elections were declared and the truth came to the fore. Despite all the efforts made by the Party’s leaders both at the state and the national level, the BJP was able to win only 2 out of sixty seats in the assembly. And it has been reiterated that the credit for the victory of Alexander L Hek and Sanbor Shullai cannot be credited to the Party. The two were on a winning streak and would have won anyway, from whichever party they contested. The duo have defected from many parties before and won from whichever party they have contested, so the BJP as such has very limited role to play in their win. As a matter of fact the duo had joined the BJP only few weeks before the election, so Hek and Sanbor won because of their own personal ability to attract voters.

The major surprise was the fact that even the sitting Independent MLAs, who joined the BJP before the elections lost their seats when they contested from the Party. And some of these politicians have since quit the party and are going to contest the Autonomous District Council election from a different party. Others have now gone into hibernation even in the local politics.

The Party leadership should be worried because of the startling situation that the BJP is currently in now. It has reached a point when it could not even find a single candidate to file nominations for the election to the three district councils in the state. This is a huge setback and major embarrassment for the national party. The Party leaders may give many excuses for not fielding candidates in the coming election, but the question is what is the raison- de- etre of a political party of the stature of the BJP if it does not contest the election?

This is not the only reason for  the BJP to be alarmed, but it is also a major embarrassment for the Party when even the state leaders themselves refuse to let their relatives contest the MDC elections on a party ticket. Are the leaders who are at the helm of the Party not confident of the BJP performance in the ADC election? Sanbor Shullai’s nephew Rocky Shullai is contesting the ADC election from the United Democratic Party ticket; Ricky Hek nephew of AL Hek is contesting the election as an independent candidate and Violet Lyngdoh the cousin of Shibun Lyngdoh and sitting MDC in the Jaiñtia Hills ADC is fighting to retain her seat as a candidate of the National People’s Party. The question on everybody’s mind is, why is this happening? Is this the beginning of the demise of the BJP? What will its image be after the ADC election?

Is it because of the mess that the Party is in now, that quite a significant numbers of candidates, who contested the ADC elections now, were active members of the BJP in the last legislative assembly election? The question that the Party leaders should ask is why did they leave the Party and why are they contesting the elections from different party tickets? The last few months also saw not only a large exodus of leaders from the BJP to other parties and the equally surprising happening is that the party leadership remained a mute spectator to all that is happening around. And if this is not evident enough to prove that the BJP is on a downslide, then read the local papers both English and vernacular and one will see that there is large scale defection of the BJP rank and file to other parties before the ADC elections.

Obviously, we have leaders themselves in doubt about the prospects of the party to win the ensuing election to the ADCs? Is this then a case of the Party being backstabbed by its own leaders? If so why? Many will suggest that the Party is in such a situation because of the decision of the BJP-led NDA government to implement the Citizenship Amendment Bill. They may blame the Centre’s way of tackling the issue in the aftermath of the Bill being passed by the Lok Sabha as the cause for the embarrassing situation, but is the Party faring any better in the last LA election? The BJP has not done any better in the last four years and the CAB could be the guillotine hanging over the neck of the Party in the state and an excuse for deserters to leave it.

The most important development will come if and when the NDA tables the Bill in the Upper House because that will be like opening a Pandora’s box in Meghalaya. The leader of the NPP and Chief Minister of the state had made a public statement that NPP will withdraw from the NDA if the bill is tabled in the Rajya Sabha, which means that the NPP-led MDA government in the state will have to drop the BJP from the alliance. The other consequences is the BJP MLA themselves have made it public that if the bill is introduced in the house, they will resign from the Party membership. This  means that they will cease to be MLAs and not only will BJP lose the only two MLAs that they have but, there will be a bye-election, the outcome of which we will have to wait and see.

The point is, if the party goes ahead and introduces the Bill in the Rajya Sabha it will lose the confidence of not only the people of Meghalaya, but the people of the entire North East. The state and regional leadership of the party knows this very well, but is the national leadership willing to listen? Is this the beginning of the end of the BJP in the state?  If the Party leadership in Delhi refuses to budge to the public demand, then it definitely is the end of the road for the BJP at least in Meghalaya.

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