The cup that cheers dashed the hopes of six political parties, including the Congress and the Trinamool Congress (TMC), of forming an alternative government in Meghalaya.
Soon after National People’s Party (NPP) chief Conrad K. Sangma staked claim to form the government with 29 newly-elected members on Friday, the leaders of six other parties met at the residence of the State’s outgoing Home Minister Lakhmen Rymbui in Shillong to pursue an alternative formation led by the United Democratic Party (UDP).
The parties were the UDP, the Congress, the TMC, Voice of the People Party, Hills State People’s Democratic Party (HSPDP) and the People’s Democratic Front. They claimed to have 31 ‘MLAs’, including two independents, although there were 29 who attended the meeting.
The break-up was UDP 11, Congress and TMC five each, VPP four and HSPDP and PDF two each.
But the yearning of the two HSPDP MLAs-elect — Methodius Dkhar and Shakliar Warjri — to have some tea apparently prevented the UDP from having a shot of heading the new government.
The UDP has been a staple in almost all coalition governments in Meghalaya over the last two decades.
The others waited for the HSPDP duo to return. Party president K.P. Pangniang began making calls frantically after more than an hour passed.
The leaders dispersed from Mr. Rymbui’s house after photographs on websites and social media platforms showed Mr. Dkhar and Mr. Warjri with Mr. Sangma with a letter of support to an NPP-led alliance government with the BJP as a constituent.
“The two MLAs surprised us by slipping out of the meeting. We hope they will return,” Mr. Pangniang said.
UDP president and outgoing Assembly Speaker, Metbah Lyngdoh, admitted the HSPDP duo had taken them by surprise. He said the NPP did not communicate with his party about renewing the alliance.
The UDP and the HSPDP were among the five parties that stitched the NPP-led Meghalaya Democratic Alliance government from 2018-2023.