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BJP ‘watches’ Cong feud

Shillong, July 13: The internal squabbling within the ruling Congress in Meghalaya is likely to have far-reaching effects as sources today claimed that the BJP here was maintaining close contact with some Congress legislators.

The latest political development could be linked to the infighting within the Congress especially in view of the move to oust chief minister Mukul Sangma, sources said.

It is, however, not clear with which group the BJP has built a rapport.

The infighting within the Congress was exposed during the Lok Sabha polls especially in the Shillong parliamentary constituency as some Congress MLAs had reportedly worked against their own party candidate, Vincent H. Pala.

Former BJP legislator A.L. Hek — now a Congress legislator and health minister in the Congress-led government — has met several BJP leaders in Delhi who are ministers in the Narendra Modi government.

Kiren Rijiju, Smriti Irani, Harsh Vardhan were some of the BJP leaders whom Hek had met in Delhi recently.

Sangma met Union home minister Rajnath Singh after Hek’s meeting with BJP leaders. Hek was even termed a facilitator between the chief minister and the Union ministers of the BJP-led NDA government. Both Sangma and Hek, however, have denied the “facilitator” charge.

Hek’s meeting with the BJP leaders has also fuelled speculation that the former BJP man may desert the Congress and return to his parent party.

“Now I am a Congress MLA and I am with the Congress. Nobody can say about the future,” Hek was quoted as saying in the media recently.

He was elected on BJP tickets for many years, including in the 2008 Assembly elections. However, he joined the Congress in 2009 without resigning from the Assembly and won on a Congress ticket in the 2013 elections.

The general secretary of the Meghalaya unit of the BJP, Dipayan Chakraborty, however, denied that there was a relationship with the Congress especially with the legislators.

“The BJP has no such intention to approach or rather poach anyone to come and join the party. Our target is to strengthen the party and field our candidates in the Assembly elections in 2018 so that we have our own set of MLAs,” Chakraborty told this correspondent today.

He also denied reports that Congress legislators or those from other parties have expressed their interest to join the party.

The overwhelming victory of the BJP in the Lok Sabha elections, including an unexpected good performance from Shillong parliamentary constituency through its candidate Shibun Lyngdoh, had surprised many.

With the BJP at the Centre, fear is running high, perhaps not only within the Congress camp but also among regional parties that the BJP’s strength might just increase further and subsequently cause upset for them in the 2018 Assembly elections.