Shillong, March 1: The United Democratic Party (UDP) and the Hill State People’s Democratic Party (HSPDP) have decided to occupy the Opposition benches in the Meghalaya Assembly.
Both parties were part of the outgoing Congress-led Meghalaya United Alliance (MUA) government.
“The verdict is very clear, as the people want the Congress to rule the state. We respect the verdict and will sit in the Opposition,” HSPDP legislator Ardent Miller Basaiawmoit told The Telegraph.
The HSPDP won in four constituencies, two up from its 2008 tally. Apart from Basaiawmoit, the winners include veteran legislator Hopingstone Lyngdoh from Nongstoin, K.P. Pangniang from Rambrai-Jyrngam and Witting Mawsor from Mawshynrut.
The UDP, on the other hand, won in eight constituencies, three down from its 2008 tally, and was whitewashed in Jaintia hills, Ri Bhoi and Garo hills.
Alleging that money had played a major role in the Assembly polls, UDP president Donkupar Roy said, “Money convinced people about who to vote for.”
He said no matter what a legislator did during his tenure, at the end of it all, it was money that swayed a voter during elections. “Voters are bought at least four days before the elections,” he alleged, adding that educated youths with no money would be disheartened to join politics if this trend persisted.
On the UDP’s role in the new Assembly, Roy said, “The people’s verdict indicates that the electorate does not want us to be with the government.” He, therefore, said his party would sit on the Opposition benches.
Admitting that the UDP had reached rock-bottom, he said, “At present, we are on the downward trend. We now hope to rise since we have reached the bottom.”
Roy was also elected as the UDP parliamentary leader.
The party had suffered major upsets in the polls where its working president and outgoing deputy chief minister Bindo M. Lanong was defeated by Congress nominee M. Ampareen Lyngdoh from East Shillong.
The other prominent UDP legislator who tasted defeat was John Antonius Lyngdoh. The three-time legislator fell to Congress nominee Kennedy Cornelius Khyriem from Mawphlang constituency.
The UDP, HSPDP and the NPP do not have the requisite numbers to be recognised as the official Opposition party as all three bagged less than 10 seats.
The HSPDP said till now no talks had been held to form an alliance with the UDP in the Assembly.