New Delhi: Disgruntled over saffron party’s move to not field any candidate from West Shillong, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) unit in this Meghalaya constituency has resigned en masse.
West Shillong is one of the five general seats in the 60-member Meghalaya assembly, all other seats are reserved for Scheduled Tribes.
BJP has fielded its candidates in 47 seats, which includes four turncoat MLAs who joined the party last month. The party had won two seats in the 2013 Meghalaya elections.
National People's Party (NPP), which is a part of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA), has fielded Havergail Edwina Bareh in the constituency. Bareh recently quit the Congress to join NPP.
NPP was founded by the former Lok Sabha speaker PA Sangma after his expulsion from Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) in 2012. Following Sangma death, his son Conrad Sangma took over the reins of the party.
Even though the NPP and BJP have not entered into a pre-poll alliance, both the parties have not ruled out the possibility of a post-poll alliance.
Paul Lyngdoh, working president of Meghalaya's United Democratic Party (UDP), is the current West Shillong MLA and is one of the four candidates in the fray for the seat.
Lyngdoh was president of the powerful Khasi Students Union (KSU) for many years before entering electoral politics. Lyngdoh also contested for the Shillong Lok Sabha seat in the 2014 elections, but came third behind Congress’ Vincent H Pala and independent candidate Prechard Basaiawmoit.
In the 2013 Meghalaya Assembly elections, Lyngdoh defeated Congress candidate Mohendro Rapsang by a narrow margin of 481 votes in a three-cornered contest. Rapsang who is again taking on Lyngdoh this year, belongs to a prominent business family of Meghalaya.
The West Shillong constituency was formed after the 2009 Delimitation of Parliamentary and Assembly Constituencies, and includes a large portion of the erstwhile Mawprem constituency that has a sizeable Nepalese population.
Veteran Meghalaya Congress leader Dhrubhanath Joshi represented the Mawprem seat for five straight terms before losing it to NCP candidate Ardhendhu Choudhuri in 2003 by a margin of 1157 votes. Choudhuri died in a helicopter crash in 2004 following which his brother Manas Chaudhuri represented the constituency as an independent.
After the 2009 delimitation, the Mawprem constituency ceased to exist and parts of it were merged with the new South Shillong and West Shillong constituencies.