BJP ally gaining ground but hiccup in home base Meghalaya


Guwahati, July 20: The National People’s Party (NPP), one of Bharatiya Janata Party’s key regional allies in the Northeast, has been gaining ground in the region but appears to have come across a rough patch in home base Meghalaya.
Less than a week ago, seven of nine MLAs of the opposition People’s Party of Arunachal switched over to the NPP to help plant its flag in Arunachal Pradesh. This made the NPP a part of the BJP government led by Pema Khandu in the Frontier State.
The NPP is in the ruling alliances in Manipur and Nagaland – BJP is a major player in these states – with four and two MLAs respectively.
But the NPP boat has been rocking in Meghalaya ahead of by-election to two Assembly seats. The challenge has come from its regional allies such as United Democratic Party (UDP).
The State’s Ranikor Assembly constituency fell vacant after five-time MLA Martin M. Danggo quit the Congress and the seat in June. He joined the NPP, which promptly named him as the party candidate for the seat.
The South Tura Assembly seat too fell vacant this month after former Union minister Agatha K. Sangma resigned to let her brother and Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma contest.
Sangma, an MP from Tura parliamentary seat, is the NPP chief.
On Wednesday, the UDP decided to back Pius Marwein, a common candidate, for the Ranikor seat. Party leader Jemino Mawthoh said Mr. Marwein has the support of the Congress as well as the BJP. The day also saw local leaders of NPP and BJP in Ranikor block join the UDP.
The UDP also said it might put up a candidate against the Chief Minister in the South Tura seat. The State’s minister and BJP leader Alexander L. Hek also indicated the BJP could field a candidate in South Tura by saying the party should focus on the seat instead of Ranikor.
But NPP leader and Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong played down the “speculated threat” from allies. “People showed their faith in the NPP during the Assembly elections, and it should be no different for the by-polls,” he said.  (Courtesy: The Hindu)