By HH Mohrmen
For the whole of last week I suffered from writer’s block and had to ponder hard about what to write on the first day of the year. It was like being on a hillock and staring at an open space waiting for a train of ideas to come down on me. December was a hectic month because apart from contributing regular weekly columns to this paper I have also been asked to contribute to other publications. I was running out of ideas because no matter how deeply I tried to contemplate my mind is still blank.
Nevertheless, a writer has a commitment and a deadline that cannot be missed so here I am. Whenever I think of the New Year (2012), the only thought that repeatedly comes to my mind are scenes from the movie 2012. According to this movie, 2012 is supposed to be the year of the Armageddon, the year when the world as we know it will end but that is not the point of this write-up. The year 2012 is going to be the most important year for Meghalaya because it is the pre-election year for the state; it will be the year when regional parties which have been defunct for the last five years will receive a new lease of life and resurface. The year can also be the beginning of the end for at least some political parties in the state.
Thanks to the fact that election is becoming such an extremely expensive process, regional parties like Meghalaya Democratic Party (MDP), the All Party Hills Leaders Conference, the anti merger faction of Khun Hynniewtrep Awakening Movement (KHNAM) and even the Hills State Peoples’ Democratic Party (HSPDP) will find it tough going to enter into the election fray in 2013. The fact of the matter is that any party or candidate who wishes to contest the election needs to have a huge bank balance. So can 2012 spell doom for the fringe regional parties? In the current political scenario the only reason for small regional parties to exist is to cash in from a hung assembly. Another reason that the leaders of these parties want to remain afloat is to keep the flag of the party flying even though it means having to field only few candidates in the election.
Then we have National Parties like the Bharatya Janata Party (BJP) and even regional parties with aspirations to be national parties like the Trinamool Congress, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and even Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD). These will test the political waters in the State and set up candidates in the next election. But new parties will find it difficult to woo the State’s voters. The people of Meghalaya took several years to accept even the Congress party; it will take more than mere entering the election fray for new non-regional parties to have any impact in the State’s political landscape.
With the small regional parties and the other national parties not expecting to make any impact in the 2013 election to the state assembly, we are left with just three main contenders for power in the next election, the Congress, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the United Democratic Party (UDP). While the Congress and the UDP are bed fellows in the current political dispensation in the state, the NCP is in fact the only opposition party in the state assembly. Will the NCP be able to make the best use of the anti incumbency issue that is going to stare the MUA in the face? The prospect of NCP being able to improve on its status from that of 2008 depends largely on the party’s ability to make inroads in the Khasi Jaintia Hills District in the 2013 election. So 2012 will be a very crucial year for the party. The NCP has much to do this year to build the party in the Khasi and Jaintia Hills Districts. It seems the party’s problem is not in its near absence in the Khasi and Jaintia Hills; rather the NCP’s predicament is from what is brewing in its own turf in Garo Hills. The trouble which started with the GHADC imbroglio, in which the party’s MDCs joined the Congress party en-mass to form an Executive Committee in the council seems to continue unabated.
Then the UDP’s hope to fool people by trying to lay claim only for the good things that are happening in the MUA and to blame the Congress for everything else is not going to help the party. If the Congress goes down; its partner will follow suit because it take two hands to clap. Even the much talked about merger of the KHNAM with the party will have a very little impact on the voters other than the media hype that it has created. KHNAM is a spent force anyway because the party since its inception has failed to make any impact elsewhere in the state other than in the East Khasi hills District. To be able to come up in a big way in the next election, the party needs to improve on its performance in Jaintia Hills District from where the party drew a blank in the last election and the Garo Hills Districts where the party’s support base has shifted allegiance to the NCP.
The Congress party’s prospects would have been better if it is not for the intra-party wrangling that has wasted the better part of the last two years. The Congress’ fate in the ensuing election depends on the party’s ability to convince people that it will not repeat similar mistake after the 2013 election. The Congress will only be able to solve the leadership issue if it comes up with a Chief Ministerial candidate, but is that possible in the Congress now? The party is equally poised in both the Garo Hills Districts and the Khasi and Jaintia Hills Districts, but it’s fate depends on how good or bad the other two parties perform. If NCP improves its position in the Garo Hills Districts that will have a drastic impact on the Congress party’s prospect and if the UDP position improves in the Khasi Jaintia Hills, that will be bad news for the Congress. In the triangular fight for power in the State Assembly one hopes that it is not too early to predict that the state is yet again headed for another hung assembly.
(The writer is a researcher and enviro-nmental activist)