Feb 28: Nagaland and Tripura today voted for stability and development, voting back the Naga People’s Front and the CPM respectively to run their governments for the next five years in what is seen as a public preference for continuity however disparate the situations in the two states may be.
Meghalaya’s jinx of hung assemblies and coalition governments, though, continued with the Mukul Sangma-led Congress winning 29 seats, two short of a simple majority in the 60-member House.
While chief minister Manik Sarkar rode a wave of support into a fourth straight term — the fifth consecutive term for the CPM — in Tripura, Neiphiu Rio was voted into his third in Nagaland.
Mukul Sangma, who should be back given the presence of 13 successful Independents, could be in for the second time in Meghalaya.
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. All successful party candidates have been asked to be present in Shillong by noon tomorrow, they added. AICC leader in-charge of Meghalaya Mukul Wasnik and AICC leader Sanjay Bapna have reached Shillong to make preparations for the next government.
“Having won the battle is just one part of an achievement. Complete achievement is when being in power we can wipe out backwardness and poverty. Backwardness and poverty have been the issues for the people of the state and, therefore, became the party’s priorities,” Sangma said.
In a region marked by ethnic strife, secessionist movements and economic backwardness, today’s results were quite in line with the pattern that has lately emerged in the region. Both Tarun Gogoi of Assam and Okram Ibobi Singh of Manipur have led their Congress governments into third straight terms. The party has also been entrusted with running the show in Arunachal Pradesh for two consecutive terms now.
“For Mukul it’s the implementation of central 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, 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 round, though, are diverse.
Senior CPM leader and party spokesperson in Tripura Gautam Das said, “The Congress’s last-minute offer of central government salaries and 35kg of rice for the poor at Rs 1 per kg per month just didn’t cut ice with the electorate.”
The voter preferred to stick with the tried and tested — the CPM’s record of what it delivered. “The people don’t seem to have taken our promises seriously and this is why they went for the Left,” Congress MLA Gopal Roy said.
Mukul Sangma, despite being two short of a simple majority, would have scored on two fronts: not just as a party that has sold its agenda to the people but also as one that had fielded individuals who succeeded in garnering support at both the level of the village and the clan.
Sniawbhalang Dhar, the Congress candidate who won from Nartiang constituency in West Jaintia Hills, for example, was put up by the village, as was Hopeful Bamon, Independent candidate, who won from the Sutnga Saipung constituency in East Jaintia Hills.
“Our clans are very closely knit, like we have blood relations. So much so, that we can’t marry within our own clans. Politically speaking, that would mean that a particular clan would have more access to a representative of theirs in the Assembly,” says Patricia Mukhim, columnist. “Hence the importance of having a person from your clan elected.”Add to that the Congress’s capacity to provide a certain stability despite the infighting that has marked the party, and it is what is believed to have helped Mukul Sangma’s score.
The village and its inherent political and economic structure perhaps also ensured that the Congress’s corruption charge against the Rio government in Nagaland did not stick as the rural populace was unaffected by the malaise.