|KHNAM candidates take a pledge in front of the monument of U Tirot Sing Syiem in Shillong on Tuesday. Picture by UB Photos
Shillong, Feb. 11: A regional party today took a pledge to ensure that its members do not defect to other parties if they manage to win seats in elections to the autonomous district councils in Meghalaya.
The Khun Hynniewtrep National Awakening Movement (KHNAM), which viewed “horse trading” and defection of elected members as a challenge, is contesting 13 out of the 29 seats in the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council polls on February 24. The Jaintia Hills Autonomous District Council election will also be held the same day.
Party president Pyndapborthiaw Saibon administered the pledge to all their candidates who filed their nomination papers. The last date for filing papers was yesterday. The KHNAM candidates stood in front of a triangular monument built in memory of freedom fighters — U Kiang Nangbah and U Tirot Sing Syiem — while taking the pledge in the presence of supporters and party workers at the State Central Library here.
Before taking the pledge, the candidates paid tribute to the freedom fighters and sought their blessings for the upcoming elections. A one-minute silence was observed and wreaths put on the monuments as well on the statue of Khasi poet U Soso Tham.
The KHNAM members pledged they would continue to work for the welfare of the indigenous population and stay united after they are elected. Saibon said the pledge was a promise to the people that elected members of the council would not defect to another party like in the past. In 2009, four members of the party were elected to the 29-member Khasi council but one of its members later defected to the ruling Congress.
Anti-defection law under provisions of the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution is not applicable for autonomous district councils in Meghalaya, though they are a constitutional body. In the absence of the anti-defection law, a number of members of district councils have left their parent party to switch allegiance to the ruling party at most times.
Saibon believed the pledge, a rare instance of honesty, would help elected members of the party keep the promise and live up to the people’s expectations.
In a state where political stances change at the drop of a hat, it will be interesting to see whether those who took the vows keep their word.