Bharatiya Janata Party may have managed to win only two seats in the Meghalaya Assembly Elections 2018 but its leadership is leaving no stone unturned to oust Congress from yet another state.
Saturday's poll counting resulted in a hung assembly in Meghalaya. The ruling Congress emerged as the single largest party with 21 seats in the 60-member House, 10 short of the 31 seats needed to retain power, leaving the game wide open for regional parties to play.
With 19 seats, the National People's Party (NPP), founded by former Lok Sabha Speaker PA Sangma and now led by his son and lawmaker Conrad Sangma, is the No 2 party. NPP is part of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) at the Centre but had contested the assembly polls on its own.
The United Democratic Party (UDP), which is part of the BJP-led North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), has won six seats. Another regional party HSPDP that has a pre-poll alliance with the UDP has won two seats.
BJP's key strategist for the Northeast Himanta Biswa Sarma, who was rushed to the state after a fractured mandate said, the people of the state have brought Congress down from 28 seats to 21, thus it was incumbent upon other parties to come together, respect people's mandate and form a non-Congress government.
"We can't have any major role here. That will have to be played by the regional political parties -- NPP, UDP, PDF and HSPDP. We will encourage them to form a government. They have to take the plunge. Wherever they feel the BJP can facilitate their discussion, help or inspire, we will be there," Sarma told media yesterday.
Meanwhile, Congress has also sent its top guns to Meghalaya to explore possibilities of government formation there. The party's senior leaders Ahmed Patel and Kamal Nath left for Shillong on Saturday to work out possible tie-ups with Independents in to form a government.
No comments were issued by the Congress on its losses as party president Rahul Gandhi is out of the country. It did not win a single seat Tripura and Nagaland. The Congress defended Gandhi's visit to Italy over the weekend, saying he had every right to meet his grandmother.
The party's leader Mukul Wasnik was also present in Shillong, where all the leaders held talks with the local leadership, other parties and Independents.
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The Congress' move comes in the wake of criticism in the past that the party was caught "napping" in Goa and Manipur, where despite emerging as the single-largest party it failed to form governments.
Sources said that Patel and Nath soon after reaching Shillong in the afternoon held discussions with party leaders, including outgoing chief minister Mukul Sangma.
Both the leaders claimed that the Congress would form the government in Meghalaya and was working towards it.
The Congress was in power in Meghalaya for five years and it hoped to get a majority this time too, which did not happen, Wasnik said.
No party has got majority and parties with the same ideology should work together to form a government, he said.
Meghalaya is one of the five states currently held by the Congress. The other states are Punjab, Karnataka and Mizoram, and Union territory Puducherry.
Watch video: Meghalaya Election Results 2018: Congress emerges as largest party, but game wide open