SHILLONG, March 2: The ruling National People’s Party (NPP) in Meghalaya emerged as the single-largest party in the state on Thursday, clinching 26 seats out of the 59 constituencies that went to polls on February 27, the Election Commission said.
However, it fell short of gaining a majority in the 60-member assembly.
The BJP, which had brought star campaigners, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, party chief J P Nadda and Shah, managed to win only two seats. In the last Assembly too, the BJP had won two seats –Sanbor Shullai and A L Hek.
The United Democratic Party (UDP), which was NPP’s ally in the Sangma government, emerged the second-largest party, winning 11 constituencies. It had won only six seats in the 2018 polls.
The Congress and the Mamata Banerjee-led TMC won five seats each.
The newly formed Voice of the People Party (VPP) won four seats, while the Hill State People’s Democratic Party (HSPDP), the People’s Democratic Front won two seats each. Two Independent candidates also emerged victorious.
Conrad Sangma won from the South Tura seat by a margin of 5,016 votes, while his deputy Prestone Tynsong won the Pynursla seat by 8,140 votes.
“I thank the people of our state for having voted for our party. We are grateful to them. We are still short of the numbers… and will decide on the way forward later,” the CM said.
NPP spokesperson Ampareen Lyngdoh said the ruling party will have to seek the support of others to return to power for the second consecutive term.
Tynsong, after his victory was announced, said, “In Meghalaya politics, individual candidates matter more than the party. It is the nominees who win the elections, not the party.”
“We expected to cross the magic number on our own, but did not foresee such a divided mandate,” he said.
State Congress president and MP Vincent H Pala lost to NPP’s Santa Mary Shylla by 1,828 votes in the Sutnga Saipung seat. Cabinet ministers James P K Sangma, Brolding Nongsiej, Hameltson Dohling and Dasakhiatbha Lamare were among candidates who lost.
Meghalaya Assembly Speaker Metbah Lyngdoh won the Mairang constituency by 155 votes, while BJP’s Sanbor Shullai clinched the South Shillong seat by 11,609 votes.
Polling in the Sohiong seat was adjourned due to the death of a candidate.
The NPP bandwagon not only came to town in Garo Hills but literally swept aside all opposition, taking in an unprecedented 18 seats of a possible 24. The show, which none predicted would ever be possible, has now left the party within a whisker of touching the halfway mark while it contemplates government formation over the coming days.
Interestingly, in three of the four seats they managed to lose, the margins of loss was only 372 votes in Songsak, 10 votes in Rajabala and heartbreakingly for former minister, James Sangma, 18 votes in his constituency in Dadenggre. All 3 seats were won by the AITC which overall managed to win only 4 of the 24 that it contested in Garo Hills and only 5 in the entire state.
AITC supremo, Mukul Sangma, who had stood from two seats, Tikrikilla and Songsak managed to retain his Songsak seat while losing by over 5,300 votes to his NPP rival and former Congress colleague, Jimmy D Sangma.
What will be even more damning for the TMC leader is that not only did he lose but had to see his wife, Dikkanchi D Shira lose a close fight with the NPP’s Sanjay A Sangma while his brother, Zenith too succumbed to NPP’s Subir Marak.
Marak had come close to winning the seat in 2018 but made sure he triumphed this time.
Zenith’s wife, Sadhiarani Sangma lost to 4-time MLA from the Congress, Saleng Sangma from the Gambegre seat with the NPP’s Rakesh Sangma coming a close third. She had lost the last election in 2018 to Saleng by just about 200 votes. This time however the margin of defeat was over 2,800 votes.
Mukul’s daughter kept the Ampati bastion of the family intact, winning against the NPP’s Stevie Marak by a margin of over 2,250 votes. Her colleague and two time MLA, Winnerson D Sangma however could not defeat NPP’s Ian Botham K Sangma leaving only 1 TMC seat in what had always been seen as a Mukul Sangma bastion of South West Garo Hills.
What will come as a major surprise is that the NPP won everything on offer in North Garo Hills (NGH) with firm favourite to win the Kharkutta seat, Cherak W Momin losing to his bitter rival, Rupert Momin in a close battle. As usual Marthon Sangma, the NPP Mendipathar MLA easily won his seat with the Congress finishing a credible second. Veteran leader, Timothy D Shira and now 2 time MLA, Pongseng Marak won the Resubelpara and Bajengdoba seats respectively with good margins.
In EGH, the NPP managed to wrest the Rongjeng seat from Independent candidate Walseng Sangma who even led till the last round. In Williamnagar, the NPP literally swept the competition aside winning by over 3,800 votes. Mukul however stopped a clean sweep by winning Songsak.
The BJP, which expected to open its account in the Garo Hills region, were left completely disappointed after even what looked like a very safe bet, the seat of Dalu, saw them lose. The seat was won by the NPP by a margin of just over 500.
Two other ‘sure shot’ winners of the BJP, former MLAs, Samuel Sangma and Benedict Marak also bit the dust. While Samuel lost to Independent candidate, Kartus Marak, Benedict lost his seat to the NPP’s Limison Sangma.
The BJP think tank had the three seats in a lock but their calculations were upset. This ensured that like the last election, the BJP once again drew a blank despite the shows put on by their showstoppers, home minister, Amit Shah and the cynosure of all eyes, the PM, Narendra Modi himself.
The saffron party however can take heart from the fact that despite their loss, the vote share of the BJP almost doubled with many in the mix being very serious contenders.
The prestigious South Tura seat saw history in the making with the CM, Conrad Sangma becoming the first candidate to win the seat twice. Though he initially had a few nervy moments against the BJP’s Bernard Marak, in the end the seat was won by over 5,016 votes. His uncle, Thomas Marak too overcame the odds to win by over 3,800 votes, a comfortable margin in the end.
For the NPP, the Selsella seat was literally a walkover, with Arbinstone Marak winning the seay by over double of his closest rival of the TMC, Agassi Marak. The BJP’s FCA Sangma stood a little behind.
Three time MLA from Phulbari, AT Mondal wrested the seat from bitter rival, AITC’s SG Esmatur Mominin winning by over 3200 votes.