Congress fails to muster support despite emerging as largest party

The National People’s Party (NPP) yesterday met Meghalaya Governor Ganga Prasad and staked claim to form the next government in the northeastern state.
The swearing-in ceremony is likely to take place tomorrow, news agency ANI reported.
The NPP, which got 19 seats on its own, has the backing of six United Democratic Party (UDP) legislators, four People’s Democratic Front (PDF) MLAs, two each from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Hill State People’s Democratic Party (HSPDP) and an Independents legislator, taking the combined strength of the alliance to 34.
This leaves the ruling Congress, despite retaining 21 seats, lagging in the numbers game.
Assam Health Minister and convener of the BJP-led alliance North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) Himanta Biswa Sarma said a delegation comprising the legislators of NPP, UDP, BJP, HSPDP and UDF met the governor at the Raj Bhavan and told him they had the required numbers to form the next state government.
“The mandate in Meghalaya is against the Congress. The role of the BJP is just a facilitator. We are facilitating the regional parties in Meghalaya to unite and form a government in the state to keep the Congress at bay,” said Sarma, who has been camping in the state since Saturday.
“It will be a government of the regional political parties to be led by the NPP. The BJP has two legislators and our party has also decided to extend support to the NPP. We are there to facilitate and we are doing that to ensure that there is a non-Congress government in Meghalaya,” said Sarma.
Following the meeting with Prasad, NPP leader Conrad Sangma said that his party was committed to the development of the state and its people.
“Running a coalition government is never easy but I am confident that the MLAs who are with us are very committed to the state and people, and will work towards development of the state,” he said.
Sarma said Conrad will be the next chief minister and that there will be no deputy chief minister in the new government.
On the other hand, outgoing Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma also met the governor and said his party should be invited to form the next government as it is the single largest party.
The chief minister, however, failed to produce letters of support from any other party.
Earlier in the day, BJP leader and federal Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju met UDP president Donkupar Roy to discuss the formation of a non-Congress government under the leadership of the NPP.
“We are not a big player here. We have come to express our support to the regional parties to form a non-Congress government,” Rijiju said.
lMeghalaya has 66% ‘crorepati’ legislators, or 39 out of 59 elected MLAs in the state legislative assembly having individual wealth of over Rs10mn, a report said yesterday.
According to a report by the Meghalaya Election Watch (MEW) and the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), seven MLAs did not declare their sources of income.
Only one, Bendic R Marak from the state’s second largest National People’s Party,  has declared criminal cases registered against him, which include one for criminal trespass, one for voluntarily causing hurt and the third one for acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention.

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