Shillong: The Bharatiya Janata Party which has come to power in three north-eastern states is now using all its might to capture power in one more, Meghalaya, which will go to polls early next year. The task is difficult because the Congress has been ruling the state for the past 15 years.
The party has entered into an agreement with the National People’s Party founded by late P A Sangma, former speaker of the Lok Sabha. It is in talks with some smaller groups to broadbase its alliance and put up a strong fight against the party.
The NPA is now part part of the party’s North-east Democratic Alliance formed in Assam before the Assembly elections in the state which had led to a big success– Congress was thrown out after 15 years of rule. In addition the party may rope in Hill State People’s Democratic Party in Meghalaya.
To strengthen its position further, the party decided to recast its state executive by inducting more tribals into it. In this tribal-dominated state their number has grown to 12 now in the 16-member executive.
Party leader and incharge of the state Nalin Kohli was here on Friday to chalk out some other plans to queer the Congress pitch.
He has set at rest rumour that cow meat will be banned in the state if BJP came to power in the state. He has asked the party members to tour densely populated tribal areas and reassure the people living there that the party has no such plan as, unlike other states, their main dishes are made from it.
In the 60-member Meghalaya assembly, 55 seats are reserved for them. It can annoy these castes to its own peril.
The party is hoping to make its mark in the state on account of the fact that 22 per cent of the voters are in 18-25 age group and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s magic may bring them in. Fifty per cent women voters too matter most for the party.
To throw out the Congress from power will not be easy because it has been ruling it since 2003. The November 2015 by-election result which went against the party has, perhaps, given it hope.
Meghalaya is one of the six states being ruled by the Congress at present. Out of these, three states will go to polls next year. The other states are Himachal Pradesh and Karnataka. In addition to Meghalaya the party has its eyes set on Odisha in the eastern part of the country.