GUWAHATI, JANUARY 2: The ruling Congress government in Meghalaya suffered another setback on Tuesday, ahead of the upcoming assembly elections in the northeastern state, as one party legislator quit to join the rival Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
With Tuesday’s development, the strength of Congress in the 60-member assembly came down to 23. But there’s no threat to the government as it still enjoys the support of allies and Independent MLAs. The term of the Meghalaya assembly expires on March 6 and polls are expected to be held in February.
Alexander L Hek, the sitting MLA from Pynthorumkhrah, along with three other legislators one from Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and two Independents quit as the members of the assembly before joining the saffron party.
The other new entrants to the BJP are NCP’s Sanbor Shullai and Independent MLAs Robinus Syngkon and Justine Dkhar. All the four legislators joined the BJP at a function in Golf Links in Shillong in the presence of Union minister KJ Alphons and senior party leaders Ram Madhav and Nalin Kohli.
Speculations about the four MLAs joining the BJP had been doing the rounds for few weeks and it was expected they would switch sides during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rally in Shillong last month.
But that didn’t materialize due to some “technical issues”. “The reason for quitting Congress and joining BJP is very simple. People from my constituency wanted me to join the party in power at Centre in order to boost development in my area and the state,” Hek told the Hindustan Times.
A former state president of the BJP, Hek won on a saffron ticket three consecutive times between 1998 and 2008 before switching over to Congress in 2009. He won on a Congress ticket in 2013 and was a minister in the ruling Mukul Sangma government before he was sacked last year.
“We joined the BJP as the present state government has failed to do anything for Meghalaya. The state can progress only under the dynamic leadership of Modi,” Shullai told HT.
Syngkon informed that he and two other Independent MLAs were planning to join BJP six months ago. But that didn’t happen due to lack of coordination between the party high command and the state unit. “We are in talks with more MLAs including those from Congress and in the next few days some more are expected to join our party,” BJP’s Meghalaya unit chief Shibun Lyngdoh said.
Last month, eight MLAs including five from Congress had quit from the assembly. They are expected to join the National People’s Party (NPP), an ally of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government at Centre, later this week. The party doesn’t have any tie-up yet with the BJP for the Meghalaya polls but it is expected they would form an alliance later to keep Congress out of power.
Earlier, another Congress MLA PM Syiem had quit the party and joined a newly formed regional outfit.