Hectic politicking in Meghalaya for government formation

March 8th, 2008 - 2:26 pm ICT by admin  

Shillong, March 8 (IANS) Hectic political activity was on Saturday to form the next government in the northeastern state of Meghalaya with the recently concluded assembly elections giving a fractured mandate with no single party getting a clear majority. In the 60-member legislature, results of which were announced Friday, the Congress emerged as the single largest party winning 25 seats, followed by the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) with 14.

The regional United Democratic Party (UDP) bagged 11 seats, five independents, besides two from the Hill State People’s Democratic Party (HSPDP), and one each from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Khun Hynniewtrep National Awakening Movement (KHNAM).

Elections were countermanded in the Baghmara assembly constituency following the death of a candidate.

With no parties able to reach the magic figure of 31, efforts were on at various levels to cobble together a majority to form the next government. NCP leaders claim they have managed the support of the UDP, besides independents and legislators of the two smaller regional parties.

The Congress party leaders are tight-lipped about their strategies, but said they have opened channels of communications with other parties for forming a coalition government.

“We shall form the government and everything should be in place by Saturday evening. We cannot divulge details at this point in time,” former chief minister D.D. Lapang told IANS.

Lapang is set to be the next chief minister in the event of a Congress-led government. A Congress legislature party meet was on to elect a leader. Congress party sources said negotiations were on with the UDP and independents, besides legislators of the HSPDP and KHNAM.

“There are lots of options available and we are confident of getting six more legislators to form the government,” another Congress leader said.

UDP leaders have gone into a shell and not available for comments on their stand on supporting the NCP or the Congress. In the last assembly, the UDP was a partner in the Congress-led Meghalaya Democratic Alliance government.

There was, however, no pre-poll alliance between the Congress and the UDP.

Political instability is the hallmark in Meghalaya - the state has seen six different governments with varied combinations of political parties, resulting in four chief ministers in a span of five years between 1998 and the last assembly elections in 2003.

There were just two occasions when a chief minister was able to complete its full five-year term since Meghalaya attained statehood in 1972.

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