Shillong, March 3: On early Saturday morning, hours before the Meghalaya Assembly election result is set to be declared, a group of young men in the capital city, Shillong, strongly feels that the incumbent Congress is going to face a humiliating defeat. When asked if they are the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) supporters, all smiled in unison. "No, we are not. We don't support the BJP's Hindutva politics. Neither did we vote for the BJP. The Congress will lose because they have backstabbed the people of Meghalaya," said a youngster from the group, refusing to reveal his name.
When further probed about the results, the men sipping their morning tea, said, "We are not poll pundits. But definitely the regional parties will decide who will form the next government."
Like the youngsters who did not give us a clear cut answer about the election result, a similar sense of confusion writ large in the Congress party office in Shillong. The party leaders are not sure which way the results will go.
"We will wait for the verdict of the people. People want change in Mawsynram," HM Shangpliang, Congress candidate from Mawsynram constituency, told ANI. Mawsynram is a village in the East Khasi Hills district of Meghalaya. It is around 65 kilometres from Shillong. It is also the wettest place on Earth.
The Congress is facing a massive anti-incumbency wave in Meghalaya. The party is in power in the state for the last 15 years. Along with strong anti-incumbency wave, the Congress is facing several challenges which include inter-party conflicts and desertions, ban on mining activities resulting in the loss of jobs for the locals, scams, security issues, and the unprecedented rise of the BJP in the Northeast since it came to power at the Centre in 2014.
The Congress and the BJP are slugging it out in Meghalaya. The Congress fielded 59 candidates, while the BJP had put up nominees in 47 constituencies. Though they are fighting separately in Meghalaya, the National People's Party (NPP) of Conrad Sangma, son of former Lok Sabha Speaker PA Sangma, is the BJP's partner in the North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA).
Experts say the NPP holds the key to the government formation in the state. "Both the BJP and the Congress are not going to get more than 25 seats. In that scenario, regional parties will come into play. Conrad's NPP will play a key role," stated a political analyst.