SHILLONG: Meghalaya chief minister and National People’s Party (NPP) president Conrad K Sangma today accepted the public mandate and attributed the loss of his party in the Garo Hills Autonomous District Council (GHADC) polls primarily to the anti-incumbency factor due to its failure to clear salaries over the past 30 months.
Accepting the people’s mandate, Sangma, however, hoped the party would be able to form the executive council (EC) in coalition with independents and others such as Garo National Council (GNC) claiming that some of the elected members were in contact with the NPP.
“We’ve seen it in the past too that anti-incumbency factor plays a role in the district council elections. In 2015, the Congress was in power in the state, but they got only seven seats and NPP got more than 10. It has always been a trend in the councils.
“The anti-incumbency against the NPP-led EC could be primarily due to the failure to clear salaries over the past 30 months due to multiple reasons. That was reflected in the fact that almost all the sitting MDCs (members of district council) have lost … That is the kind of feeling we’ve got from the election and result … I feel strongly that it’s not a direct reflection of what may happen in the future, but definitely, it is something the NPP has taken note of, and something that we realised that we must work on … Now, it’s the NPP’s turn to work hard for the elections in the future,” Sangma said.
The GHDAC has not been able to pay the employees because they have not been accepting salaries at the pre-2018 revised scale.
“We’ve got 11 seats. We’d, of course, expected much more than that. But, we accept the public mandate. We need to move forward now, and also do some post mortem on what are the areas where we went wrong and work on improving them for the long run … We’re determined to work harder to ensure that we can move further and strengthen the party in the Garo Hills region as well as throughout the state,” he said when asked about the loss to the Congress.
“Several independent candidates who have won are in touch extending support to us. But, everything can be finalised only once we sit together. All the MDCs are presently in their constituencies. We’re hopeful that an NPP-led coalition executive council could be formed,” the chief minister said when asked if the NPP still stands a chance to form the EC.
The Congress emerged the single largest party winning 12 seats out of 29, followed by BJP with11, BJP with two and GNC with one. The remaining three were won by independent candidates.
The BJP defeated the NPP by a margin of over 500 votes in Tura, the home constituency of Sangma.
“Losing Tura to the BJP in a close contest assumes significance to me. But, most of the employees of the council are from Tura and I presume a large chunk of them voted against the government for not being able to pay salaries. There are other factors as well such as the younger voters who’ve come out to vote. BJP also did better than expected in certain polling stations … It’s important for us to learn from this experience and realise that we could do far better. The party is now geared up to ensure that we work much harder than the past,” the party chief said.