In Meghalaya, the BJP played a pivotal role in stitching up a mega alliance and secure the support of 34 legislators to form the next government.
The BJP, with just two seats, outmanoeuvred the Congress — the single largest party — in cobbling up numbers to form a coalition government in Meghalaya.
And this did not happen for the first time.
In Goa and Manipur, where it emerged as the party with the maximum seats following the elections last year, the Congress snatched defeat from the jaws of victory after it failed to move quickly and secure the support of other political parties in forming the government.
The BJP has managed to beat the grand old party, once known for its deft political outmanoeuvring, at its own game.
In Meghalaya, the BJP played a pivotal role in stitching up a mega alliance and secure the support of 34 legislators to form the next government. The ruling alliance will be headed by the National People’s Party with 19 seats, and comprise the United Democratic Party (6 seats), People’s Democratic Front (4 seats), Hill State People’s Democratic Party (2 seats) and one Independent.
The Congress, with 21 legislators, was left high and dry despite rushing four senior leaders and key strategists — Ahmed Patel, Kamal Nath, Mukul Wasnik and CP Joshi — to Shillong to reach out to the possible allies and avoid a repeat of Goa and Manipur.
But they were outsmarted by a quick reaction team of the BJP, comprising Union ministers KJ Alphons and Kiren Rijiju besides Assam minister and former Congress leader Himanta Biswa Sarma.
The BJP team lost no time in keeping the Congress at bay and, in the end, the rule of India’s oldest party has now shrunk to just four states – Karnataka, Punjab, Mizoram and Puducherry.
A confident Congress had not anticipated such a fractured verdict and hoped to beat the anti-incumbency of two terms. There was no effort to reach out to the small regional outfits for a pre-poll tie-up. As results have indicated, these parties badly hurt the Congress’ prospects.
On the other hand, the BJP was in constant touch with key players for several months and, when the time came, forging a political consensus with them was hardly a tussle.
Out of the country for the weekend to celebrate Holi with his 93-year-old grandmother, Congress president Rahul Gandhi launched a stinging attack against the BJP soon after his return.
“With just 2 seats, the BJP has usurped power in Meghalaya, through a proxy. Like in Manipur & Goa, showing utter disregard for the mandate of the people. Obsessed instead with grabbing power, using big money to create an opportunistic alliance. #DemocracyDemonetised,” he wrote on Twitter.
In another tweet, Gandhi said, “The Congress party respects the mandate of the people of Tripura, Nagaland and Meghalaya. We are committed to strengthening our party across the North East and to winning back the trust of the people. My sincere thanks to each and every Congress worker who toiled for the party.”