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HVK Archives: BJP exhilarated by three-seater-ride to Meghalaya Assembly

BJP exhilarated by three-seater-ride to Meghalaya Assembly - The Indian Express

Tilak Rai ()
February 26, 1998

Title: BJP exhilarated by three-seater-ride to Meghalaya Assembly
Author: Tilak Rai
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: February 26, 1998

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is ecstatic about three of its
candidates making a debut in the Meghalaya Assembly. All three
elected members have floored two sitting Congress political
heavyweights and a senior UDP sitting legislator.

Although most political observers were convinced that senior
Congress legislator and Forest Minister J M Pariat had a fight in
his hand against young businessman and political greenhorn BJP
candidate A L Hek, few actually believed the latter would wrestle
the Pynthorumkhrah seat from Pariat. Everyone was stunned when
Hek defeated Pariat by a handsome margin of 2,505 votes.

However, the defeat of Pariat at the hands of Hek is the
culmination of various factors that characterise voters of the
constituency. Pynthorumkhrah has a mixed population with most of
them being non-tribals. Pariat was quite popular among them till
four years ago when the district administration decided to
demolish most of the illegal houses constructed on government
land in Polo ground, which was under his constituency.

Although Pariat was a home minister then, he did nothing to stop
the demolition. He was also accused of doing little to
rehabilitate those affected by the demolition. Hek grabbed this
opportunity. Although he was not in a position to do anything
substantial, his offers of sympathy to the affected won him their
admiration.

The composition of the electorates of the Laban constituency,
which was clinched by BJP candidate T H Rangad from former
minister and sitting UDP legislator Anthony Lyngdoh, is similar.
The constituency has a mixed electorate of tribals and non-
tribals. This former bank officer has a following cutting across
communities and religions because of his charisma and honesty in
addressing diverse issues.

However, the most unexpected win for BJP came from Dalu in West
Garo hills where candidate Nityanarayan Simchang defeated sitting
Congress MLA and minister Archibold A Sangma. This could be
attributed to the population structure, which includes Garos,
Hajong, Koch and non-tribals. Non-Christian votes, that include
Hajong, Koch and non-tribals, aided the BJP's victory.

The BJP won three of the 27 Assembly seats it contested. In the
1993 elections, they had fielded 19 candidates but had drawn a
blank. At the time, the party was viewed as one that propagated a
Hindu raj. However, it is no longer considered "untouchable ".
This was seen during Advani's public rally held here just before
the polls where it drew a moderate crowd comparable to those
drawn by UDP public rally at the same venue.


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