A few hours into counting of votes for assembly election in the northeastern state of Meghalaya, top Congress leaders Kamal Nath and Ahmed Patel boarded a plane from Delhi for state capital Shillong. The party, caught napping in two states last year that voted a hung assembly, is taking no chances this time.
At a little over noon on Saturday, the Congress, seeking re-election in Meghalaya, was leading the board ahead in 25 seats, six short of the majority target of 31 in the 60-seat assembly. The National People’s Party (NPP) was next at 12, while the BJP was making gains with eight. No one was positioned to win a majority in the state, which has only once handed a clear victory to a party.
The movement of top central leaders by the Congress is an attempt to ensure quick negotiations for the support of smaller parties and Independents to form government once results are announced today.
The BJP and its regional partners in the North East Democratic Alliance – the NPP and the United Democratic Party contested the Meghalaya elections separately. The NPP, in fact, is a member of the national alliance NDA that the BJP leads. The Congress fears that in case of a hung assembly, the BJP could quickly swing into action putting together a post-poll alliance to form government.
The UDP is leading in five seats, while Independents and others are ahead in four.
In another Northeast state last year, the BJP outwitted the Congress, which was the single largest party but failed to move quickly enough to form government. The BJP swiftly announced an alliance and formed government.
In Goa too, where elections were held at the same time, the BJP was second to the Congress but was quicker to contact regional parties and form government.
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