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Congress favourite in Meghalaya

  • Published at 12:59 am May 18th, 2019
WEB- Indian Election
A man holding a child reacts behind a voting compartment as he prepares to cast his vote at a polling station during the sixth phase of the general election, in New Delhi, India, May 12, 2019 Reuters

BJP seemingly has no chance in the Christian-majority state, one of the few Indian states to share border with Bangladesh  

Things are looking good for the Indian National Congress in Meghalaya, which shares border with Bangladesh, in regard to the ongoing Lok Sabha election in India, as many are predicting that the grand old party might secure both two seats allotted for the state in the Lower House, according to journalists, researchers and common voters in Meghalaya.

Given the tough competition predicted in these elections between the ruling BJP-led National Democratic Alliance and others, these two seats might matter in the formation of the next government after May 23, the day on which the votes of seven-phase marathon polls will be counted and results will be declared.

And the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has no chance to secure either of the two seats, the journalists, researchers and common voters told Dhaka Tribune.

Speaking to Dhaka Tribune on Wednesday, many people from different segments of Meghalayan society gave the impression that the Congress, which did very badly nationwide in the 2014 general polls, will pull out victory in both the seats in this state – Shillong and Tura.

Elections to these two constituencies were held on April 11, the first phase of the polls.

The Shillong seat will be won easily by the Congress against a party belonging to the coalition ruling the state government, but the fight will be tougher in the Tura constituency, where former Congress chief minister Mukul Sangma is up against one of the former Lok Sabha member, who belongs to the ruling coalition.

The individuals are of the opinion that BJP will come in distant third position in both the seats.

However, they also admitted that the share of BJP votes will increase as the support for the Saffron party has soared among the Bangali Hindus.  

Meghalaya has always been a stronghold for the Congress. Even in 2014 polls, it secured one seat, and in the state assembly election in December last year, it emerged as the single largest party, but fell short of the majority needed to form the government. A coalition of parties including BJP formed the state government in Shillong.

Although northeastern states always tend to vote for the party in the centre, Meghalaya is not likely to follow the trend due to many factors: demonetization, Modi government’s failure to improve the rural economy, unemployment, and treatment of the minorities.

“I don’t support the Modi government because it did not fulfil its pledges, especially in relations to rural economy and unemployment,” a young man, who identified himself as Mike, told this correspondent.

“Meghalaya is a Christian-majority country, and I don’t like the way the Modi government has treated minorities in the last five years. We don’t want Hindu nationalism to be imposed on us,” he added.

Kamol Das, a cab driver, is of different opinion. “Yes, I supported BJP because I believe Modi is the only man who can lead us to prosperity,” he said.

“There is discontent about BJP among voters in regards to unemployment, demonetization and GST. I think the BJP will be affected by these factors in the ongoing elections,” said Mohammad Zahid, a businessman.

“I will be surprised if BJP gets better than third position. It is predicted that the Congress will take both the seats,” said Sanath Chakraborty, researcher and former journalist.

“I think the Congress will win the Shillong constituency quite comfortably, while the margin of victory will be narrower in the Tura constituency,” a senior journalist said.

“As far as I am concerned, BJP has no chance in either of the seats,” he observed. “The promotion of Hindu nationalism by BJP and its allies scared the voters in this Christian-majority state. Christians fear that Hindu nationalism might be imposed on them by the ruling alliance.”

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