Led by Conrad Sangma’s Nationalist People’s Party (NPP), the BJP brought together regional parties UDP, HSPDP and the PDF and met the governor to stake claim to form the next government, claiming the support of 34 MLAs in the 60-member House. NPP chief and Lok Sabha MP Conrad Sangma has been nominated to be the chief minister of this alliance.
All its constituents, including the BJP, would be a part of the government, it was announced. Sources said the swearing-in could be on March 6.
It was a Super Sunday in Shillong as parleys that began on Saturday night, hours after the counting got over, continued through the day. The Congress’s nemesis again turned out to be Himanta Biswa Sarma, who held negotiations with Conrad and UDP chief Donkupar Roy to clinch the deal. By Sunday evening, MLAs and leaders of the NPP, BJP, UDP, PDF, HSPDP and an Independent MLA had jointly met governor Ganga Prasad and staked claim.
While the NPP has 19 MLAs, the UDP has six, the HSPDP 2, the BJP 2 and the PDF four. The Independent who is supporting them is Samuel M Sangma.
The Congress got left behind despite its 21 MLAs. The party had rushed its top leaders Ahmed Patel, C P Joshi, Mukul Wasnik and Kamal Nath to Shillong, but could not swing the regional parties, which held the key for government formation, its way.
While on Saturday midnight, the Congress had met the governor and staked claim, it did not have the numbers then. While submitting his resignation, outgoing CM Mukul Sangma had indicated that he would return to stake claim. But that did not happen.
“We have submitted a letter to the governor with support of 34 MLAs staking claim to form the government. It is up to the governor now. We will get intimation. The letter of support that has been received from the the UDP, PDF, BJP and HSPDP mentions that they would be supporting a government led by Conrad Sangma. The NPP has also given the same letter,” Conrad said, after the meeting the governor.
He did not reveal from which seat he would contest to get elected as an MLA.
While Meghalaya has an Assembly of 60, the effective strength is 58, as election was not held on one seat due to the death of a candidate while Mukul Sangma, who won from two seats, will have to vacate one.
Sarma, who arrived in Shillong from Agartala Saturday night, held meetings with Conrad, UDP chief Roy and HSPDP leaders, preparing the ground for the post-poll coalition. He, BJP leader Nalin Kohli and Union minister Alphonse Kannanthanam worked out the nitty-gritties during back-to-back meetings on Sunday, clinching the deal by afternoon.
Roy and Sarma initially claimed the alliance would have the support of 29 MLAs. But by the time they met the governor two hours later, the PDF too had come on board.
Roy said the UDP’s only condition was that “Conrad should be the CM”, and that they were ready to return to the discussion table on the issue. He said they wanted Conrad as the party feels he is the most “capable” and “acceptable” face. The parliamentary party of the UDP, he said, was clear that “we should go in for a non-Congress government or NPP-led government with Conrad Sangma as the chief minister”.
Asked whether the BJP had offered them Rajya Sabha tickets or allegedly money inducements, Roy said, “Inducements don’t work for me. I am concerned about the stability of the government.”
The HSPDP was said to be initially reluctant to be part of a coalition with the BJP in it. Roy said he discussed the matter with them and convinced them about the need for a non-Congress government.