Feb. 28: Tripura and Nagaland today voted for stability and development, bringing back the CPM and the Naga People’s Front, respectively, in an apparent preference for continuity.
Meghalaya’s jinx of hung Assemblies and coalition governments, though, continued with the Mukul Sangma-led Congress winning 29 seats, two short of majority. Purno Sangma’s party NPP won just two seats.
While Tripura chief minister Manik Sarkar rode a wave of support into a fourth straight term — the fifth consecutive term for the CPM — Neiphiu Rio was voted into his third in Nagaland. Mukul Sangma, who should be back given the possibility of support from 13 Independents, could be in for the second time in Meghalaya.
Mukul Sangma, who led the Congress to a record win in the state, will meet governor R.S. Mooshahary tomorrow to stake claim to form the next government, party sources said tonight.
In a region marked by ethnic strife, secessionist movements and economic backwardness, today’s results were in line with the pattern of status quo that has lately emerged in the region. Both Tarun Gogoi of Assam and Okram Ibobi Singh of Manipur now lead Congress governments into their third straight terms, the party also having been entrusted with running the show in Arunachal Pradesh for two consecutive terms now.
“For Mukul Sangma it’s the implementation of central government schemes that has got him the votes while in Sarkar’s case, it would be the fact that he has been in power for so long,” said Mukul Das, the Meghalaya PCC general secretary. “Rio’s stable government would have got him the votes in Nagaland.”
The issues that have put the parties and the people in power this time, though, are diverse.
“The Congress’s last-minute offer of salaries on a par with central government employees and 35kg of rice for the poor at Re 1 per kg per month didn’t cut any ice with the electorate,” said Gautam Das, a senior CPM leader and party spokesperson in Tripura.
The voters preferred to stick with the tried and tested in Tripura. The CPM’s successful sop list has been long: additional instalments of DA and upgrade of the pay-fixation formula from 1.74 per cent to 1.86 per cent and allowances for poorer sections such as washermen, barbers and rickshawpullers.
“The people do not seem to have taken our promises seriously. That is why they voted for the Left,” said Tripura Congress vice-president and newly elected MLA Gopal Roy.
In Meghalaya, despite being short of the majority, the Congress scored on two fronts: not just as a party that has sold its agenda to the people but also as one that fielded individuals who succeeded in garnering support at both the village and clan levels.
Sniawbhalang Dhar, the Congress candidate who won from the Nartiang constituency in West Jaintia Hills, was put up by the village, as was Hopeful Bamon, an Independent who won from the Sutnga Saipung constituency in East Jaintia Hills. The Congress’s capacity to provide stability despite infighting helped it.
The village and its political and economic structure perhaps ensured that the Congress’s corruption charge against Neiphiu Rio’s government in Nagaland did not stick as the rural populace was hardly affected by the alleged malaise.
“The village council in Nagaland is not politically affiliated but gets to implement a number grassroots schemes, which directly benefit the people without corruption coming in between,” said senior journalist Atanu Phukan.