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UDP move to tackle defection

Shillong, Feb. 18: One party believes in taking a pledge and another in signing an agreement to tackle defection of elected members of autonomous district councils in Meghalaya.

In the absence of an anti-defection law, the fear among political parties is imminent that their elected members may switch sides after the elections by joining another party, which is in power.

To prevent defection, the state’s principal Opposition, United Democratic Party (UDP), has inked a deal with candidates contesting the elections to the two autonomous district councils of Khasi Hills and Jaintia Hills on February 24.

“All candidates contesting on UDP tickets had signed a deed of agreement that they will abide by all party directives and that their allegiance will remain with the party if elected as members of the district councils,” party working president and former deputy chief minister Bindo M. Lanong told reporters today after releasing the election manifesto.

Lanong claimed that according to the deed of agreement, the chairman of the district council could be dragged to court if elected members defecting to another political party are not disqualified.

Interestingly, Lanong said the agreement would not bar elected members from other parties to switch allegiance to the UDP.

The party had had a bitter experience when seven out of 11 elected members of the KHADC defected to other political parties, mostly to the Congress, which is ruling both the councils.

The biggest regional party now has only four members in the Khasi council.

In the JHADC too, the UDP suffered a blow when four of its elected members defected to the Congress.

Few weeks ago, the Khun Hynniewtrep National Awakening Movement, another regional party contesting the polls, took a pledge to ensure that its candidates, if elected, would not defect to other parties.