By Our Reporter
SHILLONG: The Congress fell short of two seats to cross the half way mark to secure absolute majority, but the party with 29 seats is set to form the new Government either with likeminded parties or with the help of Independents after a fractured verdict on Thursday.
After the Congress, Independents secured 13 seats followed by UDP (8), HSPDP (4), NPP (2) and NCP (2), while the Garo National Council (GNC) and the new entrant North East Social Democratic Party (NESDP) getting one each.
Indications are that the Congress is set to form the Government with ‘likeminded’ parties including the UDP.
The Congress victory has given boost to the hope of Chief Minister Dr Mukul Sangma to retain the post of the CLP leader, though a decision in this regard will be taken by the elected legislators and the AICC leaders.
The only problem for Mukul is former Chief Minister Salseng C Marak, who made a comeback from Bajengdoba, and MPCC president DD Lapang who retained his Nongpoh seat.
This is the best ever performance of the Congress since the first Assembly elections in 1972.
The Congress has secured six more seats in Garo Hills under the leadership of Dr Sangma compared to the 7 seats it won in the 2008 election.
The only setback was in Jaintia Hills where its tally came down to three from six.
The Congress could have secured absolute majority to form the Government on its own had it allotted party tickets to former Congress legislators — Saleng A Sangma and Samuel M Sangma — who won the seats as Independents from Garo Hills.
Moreover, David Nongrum, son of Assembly Speaker Charles Pyngrope, who was denied Congress ticket, also won from Mawryngkneng.
Despite the initial setbacks, the Congress improved its tally from the previous 25 numbers, securing 29 in all. Though the party secured 25 seats after the 2008 elections, the tally rose to 28 after two wins in by-elections (Ampareen Lyngdoh from Laitumkhrah and Stanlywiss Rymbai from Umroi) and also with former BJP member AL Hek (Pynthorumkhrah) joining the Congress.
The major upsets in East Khasi Hills were the defeats of Assembly Speaker Charles Pyngrope, Deputy Chief Minister Bindo Lanong (UDP) and Social Welfare Minister J A Lyngdoh (UDP).
Pyngrope, however, said that his son David Nongrum’s win was a victory for him.
Lanong said that he accepted the defeat and did not want to make any further comments.
NPP getting just two seats is a big setback for the party supremo Purno Agitok Sangma.
Despite Sangma deserting NCP and forming NPP in Meghalaya, the NCP secured two seats, Sanbor Shullai from South Shillong and Mathon Sangma (Mendipathar).
By winning four seats, the HSPDP improved its tally from just two in the last election.
The United Democratic Party got only eight seats compared to the 10 legislators the party had since the last election.
The lone candidate of the North East Social Democratic Party, Lamboklang Mylliem, won from Jirang in Ri-Bhoi. GNC leader Clifford Nongrum staged a comeback after his two consecutive defeats following his win from Chokpot.
Our Correspondent from Tura adds: The election results of 2013 from Garo Hills has witnessed a near total sweep by the Congress as the opposition National People’s Party of PA Sangma collapsed like a pack of cards losing one seat after another.
The Congress snatched as many as 13 seats out of the 24 in Garo Hills and the NPP was forced to eat the humble pie by winning only two seats, its lowest ever in its once stronghold.
Some of the prominent winners, besides Chief Minister Dr Mukul Sangma, were his wife Dikkanchi D Shira from Mahendraganj constituency. The Chief Minister’s younger brother Zenith M Sangma also managed to stage a comeback from Rangsakona seat which he had lost in the 2008 polls to the NCP’s Adolf Lu Hitler Marak.
Meghalaya’s only other Chief Minister to survive a full five year term, Salseng C Marak, has also been returned to the Assembly after a gap of ten long years. He defeated senior NPP candidate and sitting MLA Timothy D Shira in a three tier contest.
Another Congress candidate to return after a defeat was Deborah C Marak from Williamnagar constituency. She defeated Independent candidate Jonathone Marak by a margin of 2877 votes while sitting NPP candidate Marcuise Marak was pushed to the third position.
One of the biggest setbacks came from the opposition NPP camp which lost its leader in the Assembly Conrad K Sangma and Rajya Sabha MP from Tura, Thomas A Sangma. Conrad Sangma lost to Clement Marak of the Congress from Selsella seat by a margin of 2107 votes.
In North Tura, the Rajya Sabha MP came a poor third with Congress’s Noverfield R Marak emerging victorious by defeating his nearest rival and Independent candidate Roger Benny A Sangma by a margin of 570 votes.
The most sought after results was that of South Tura constituency in which Congress’s Billykid A Sangma fought a neck to neck battle in four rounds of counting against Independent candidate John Leslee K Sangma before losing by just one vote. However, when the postal ballots were counted John Leslee expanded his lead and emerged victorious by just 18 votes.
Some of the sitting MLAs who lost in Garo Hills included Abdus Saleh in Rajabala, Nimarson Momin in Mahendraganj, Sayedullah Nongrum in Rajabala, Augustine Marak in Raksamgre, Ismail R Marak also in Raksamgre, Timothy D Shira in Resubelpara, John Manner Marak in Bajengdoba, Frankenstein W Momin in Mendipather, Omillo K Sangma in Kharkutta, Desang M Sangma in Rongjeng, Satto R Marak in Siju-Rongara and Pillipole D Marak in Chokpot.
The victorious sitting MLAs included James K Sangma of the NPP in Dadenggre, Nihim D Shira of the NPP in Songsak, Samual M Sangma (Independent) from Baghmara, Saleng A Sangma (Independent) from Gambegre, Limison Sangma (Congress) from Raksamgre, and Abu Taher Mondal (Congress) from Phulbari.