Conrad Sangma to form government in Meghalaya; Neiphiu Rio will lead Nagaland with BJP help

Trinamool Congress tries to cobble up a coalition but Mr. Conrad Sangma’s NPP confident about its claim; Manik Saha stakes claim to form the government in Tripura

March 03, 2023 12:25 pm | Updated 10:59 pm IST

Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma speaks to the media at his residence in Shillong on March 3, 2023.

Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma speaks to the media at his residence in Shillong on March 3, 2023. | Photo Credit: ANI

The National People’s Party (NPP) on Friday overcame a hiccup in forming the next government in Meghalaya. In Nagaland, the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party’s Neiphiu Rio will lead the coalition government whch includes the BJP, while the BJP’s Manik Saha staked his claim to form the government in Tripura. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah are expected to attend the oath-taking ceremonies.

Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma submits his resignation to Meghalaya Governor Phagu Chauhan and stakes claim to form the government in Shillong on March 3, 2023.

Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma submits his resignation to Meghalaya Governor Phagu Chauhan and stakes claim to form the government in Shillong on March 3, 2023. | Photo Credit: PTI

Drama ruled in Meghalaya after NPP supremo Conrad K. Sangma met Governor Phagu Chauhan at the Raj Bhavan in Shillong in the morning to submit his resignation as the Chief Minister and stake his claim to form the next government. 

He paraded 29 newly-elected members – 26 of the NPP, two of the BJP and an independent – before the Governor, but told journalists later that he had the support of 32 MLA-elects. 

Minutes later, former Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Mukul M. Sangma said that the numbers were not with the NPP. The TMC had won five of the 55 seats it had contested. 


“They (NPP and BJP) may have met the Governor but we have the numbers. We are confident that the Government will invite us to form the government,” he said, pointing out that 29 was not the majority mark in a 60-member House. Elections were held in only 59 constituencies, as voting in the Sohiong constituency was deferred after the death of United Democratic Party (UDP) candidate H.D.R. Lyngdoh

Mr. Mukul Sangma held a meeting with the leaders of the UDP, which bagged 11 seats and was one of the six constituents of the outgoing NPP-led government, and the newly-floated Voice of the People Party which won four seats. “The mandate was not decisive this time because the people voted for a change,” the TMC leader said after the meeting. 

For the record, Meghalaya has never had a clear mandate after its first election post-statehood in 1972.

Twists in the tale

Mr. Conrad Sangma had the last laugh, though. Around dusk, he announced that he had received a signed letter of support from two MLA-elects of the Hill State People’s Democratic Party (HSPDP) and another independent. 

The UDP and BJP were among the six parties in the outgoing government. 

“With two each from the BJP and HSPDP and two independents, we have the support of 32 MLAs to form the government,” Mr. Conrad Sangma said, adding that the day of the swearing-in would be decided based on the schedule of the PM, Home Minister Amit Shah and other key Central ministers. 

But the development took another twist when HSPDP president K.P. Pangniang and secretary P. Ryntathiang wrote to Mr. Conrad Sangma saying the party had not authorised its “two MLAs Methodious Dkhar and Shakliar Warjri to lend support to the formation of your government”. 

Seat sharing formula

In Nagaland, the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) and the BJP continued with their seat-sharing formula from the 2018 polls to win 25 and 12 seats respectively in the February 27 Assembly polls. The Republican Party of India (Athawale) and Lok Janshakti Party (Ram Vilas), which won two seats each, offered their support to the NDPP-BJP government. 

“Our party president, Chingwang Konyak convened a meeting of the newly-elected members who chose Neiphiu Rio as the legislature party leader. Some NDPP and BJP leaders will fly to Delhi in a day or two for a joint meeting before the swearing-in likely on March 7,” former Chief Minister and the NDPP victor from the Peren constituency, T.R. Zeliang said in Nagaland’s capital Kohima. 

Oath on Women’s Day

In Agartala, Manik Saha submitted his resignation to Governor Satyadeo Narain Arya at the Raj Bhavan as the Chief Minister of Tripura and staked a claim to form the new government. The BJP won 32 of the 60 seats and its tribal ally, the Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura, bagged one. 

“The swearing-in is tentatively on March 8 in the presence of the Prime Minister, Home Minister and other central leaders of the BJP,” Mr. Saha said. The oath-taking has been timed with International Women’s Day, which Tripura BJP leaders said Mr. Modi is passionate about. 

This has triggered speculation about a change of guard in Tripura, with a section of BJP leaders saying a woman should be in charge.   

Meanwhile, Tripura royal scion Pradyot Bikram Manikya Debbarma said his party, the Tipra Motha would play a constructive role in the Opposition but “will not sit”’ with the 14 members of the Left Front and Congress. The Tipra Motha won 13 seats.

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