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FROM A VANTAGE POINT

- Looking beyond a win

A former chief minister, who led the unstable Meghalaya Progressive Alliance (MPA) government in coalition with the NCP, HSPDP, KHNAM and Independents in 2008-2009, Donkupar Roy is seeking a sixth straight win from Shella constituency under East Khasi Hills.

The UDP, which had won in 11 constituencies in 2008, managed to woo KHNAM leader Paul Lyngdoh to its fold in a bid to bolster the prospects of the regional party. However, the party’s young and vocal legislator, Ardent Miller Basaiawmoit, chose to quit the party to contest from the HSPDP. Perhaps, for gaining some, the party also had to lose.

The regional party, formed in September 1997 with the amalgamation of the then Hill People’s Union, People’s Demand Implementation Convention (PDIC) and a faction of the HSPDP led by late E.K. Mawlong, has set up 50 candidates in 60 constituencies for the February 23 polls.

The UDP will be largely banking on its support base in the Khasi-Jaintia Hills while it has little impact in the Garo hills region.

In the 2008 polls, the party was entirely wiped out from the Jaintia Hills, which has seven constituencies. The UDP, which has been working with the Congress in the Meghalaya United Alliance (MUA) government since 2009, has made it clear that the consensus within its party was to form a government without the Congress.

Although fractured mandates have been the end result after every election in the state, it was the Congress that had always emerged as the single largest party.

If the soft-spoken Roy manages to get re-elected for the sixth consecutive time and if the UDP fares well, chances of him becoming chief minister for the second time cannot be overlooked. But that would also depend on the performance of other political parties, particularly the non-Congress parties like the P.A. Sangma-led National People’s Party (NPP).

However, the UDP had had an uneasy relationship with Sangma after the collapse of the MPA government. Sangma, who was then leading the NCP, was accused of backstabbing the UDP and the MPA by offering to form a new government with the Congress. But the UDP was quick to replace the NCP with the Congress as partner.

On February 28, when the fate of the candidates and political parties are uncovered, the government formation scenario will be apparent — Congress alone, UDP alone, Congress-UDP-HSPDP-NCP-Independents, UDP-NPP-HSPDP-NCP-BJP-Independents — and the calculation and miscalculation will continue to dominate in politically unstable Meghalaya.

CONSTITUENCY PROFILE

Shella, East Khasi Hills District

Present legislator: Donkupar Roy (UDP)

Key contestants: Donkupar Roy (United Democratic Party), Jrop

Sing Nongkhlaw (Congress),

Grace Mary Kharpuri (Independent)

Electorate size: 20,893 (Male: 10,365; Female: 10,528)

Polling stations: 41

Status: Reserved for Scheduled Tribe candidates

Key feature: Donkupar Roy will seek re-election for the sixth consecutive

time, and if the UDP wins more seats, he has the chance of leading the government

in coalition with other parties

Distance from Shillong: 93km (approx)

Development: 4 out of 10 (based on general perception)