Meghalaya: Shella to witness ‘Battle of Seven’ candidates
As the Meghalaya Assembly bypoll to the Shella constituency draws closer, political parties are equipping themselves with strategies to win the hearts of voters and earn an extra seat in the House of 60.
Shella, a stronghold of the United Democratic Party, UDP, has long been held by former Speaker, late Dr Donkupar Roy till his death.
Now, parties are putting all their cards on the table with a hope to snatch the seat from the UDP, though political analysts are of the view that Shella will remain with the UDP.
WHO'S FIGHTING THE POLL BATTLE
Two of the allies of the Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA)-People's Democratic Front (PDF) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)- have not responded to the call of the United Democratic Party (UDP) and went ahead with the decision to contest the bye-election to the Shella Assembly constituency.
The UDP had earlier urged the partners of the MDA to support the party candidate, Balajied Kupar Synrem, who is also the son of former Speaker, late Dr. Donkupar Roy.
BJP REFUSES UDP'S PLEA; ENTERS FRAY
Meanwhile, the BJP today decided to field social worker, Joshua Warjri as the party candidate for the Shella bye-election.
The formal announcement of Warjri's candidature was announced by BJP MLA from South Shillong, Sanbor Shullai at the party office in the presence of BJP State president, Shibun Lyngdoh and other senior leaders.
"We have decided to field the candidate to expand the presence of the party. We are looking to win the bye-election," Shullai said.
Replying to a query, he said that even the PDF had put up a candidate despite it being part of the ruling coalition Government in the State.
Meanwhile, BJP State president said that the BJP vote bank in Shella is very strong adding that the party in recent enrollment drives has enrolled more than 5000 members in Shella.
HAS CHYNE BEEN MISLED BY BJP?
Interestingly, member of BJP Shella Mandal, Shembhalang L Chyne yesterday had announced to join the fray after he was told by the party leadership that the party will not put candidate for the bye-election.
Chyne will be contesting as an independent candidate. It looks like Chyne has been misled by the BJP state president about the party not contesting the election.
The member of the Shella Mandal claimed that he has had talks with the BJP State president who informed that the party would not contest the election.
PDF CONFIDENT OF WINNING
Earlier, the PDF had decided to field 'strawberry man' Leston Wanswett younger brother, Mosjo Rockfeller Wanswett for the bye-election in Shella Assembly constituency.
It may be mentioned that the NPP party unit in Shella had decided to recommend the name of Wanswett for the party ticket to contest the bye-election.
However, the NPP State unit later decided not to contest the bye-election and to support the UDP candidate, Balajied Kupar Synrem.
Following this decision of the NPP, Wanswett was left with no option but to seek PDF ticket.
UDP UNMOVED BY COMPETITION FROM COALITION PARTNERS
When asked about the appeal on the part of the UDP to support its candidate, PDF working president, Banteidor Lyngdoh stated that there was no such agreement which binds the MDA partners from contesting the by-poll.
When contacted, UDP president, Metbah Lyngdoh said that the party is not hurt by the decision of the PDF and BJP to set up candidate for the bye-election in Shella.
"All political parties are free to contest the election. We had only request if they could the support the candidate of the party. But the decision to support the party candidate depends on the individual political party," Lyngdoh said.
NPP, HSPDP SUPPORT UDP
Meanwhile, the UDP president welcomes the decision of the National People's Party (NPP) and the Hills State People's Democratic Party (HSPDP) to support the candidate of the party.
"Whatever the outcome of the bye-election, all the partners are intact and remains committed to ensure the stability of the MDA coalition Government," Lyngdoh added.
CONGRESS SPRINGS SURPRISE ANNOUNCEMENT
Meanwile, the Congress had surprised many for denying ticket to sitting MDC of the Congress, Grace Mary Kharpuri and former bureaucrat, Wilfred Khyllep.
Immediately after being denied ticket, Kharpuri decided to resign from the party and contest the bye-election as an independent candidate.
On the other hand, the former bureacrat, Wilfred Khyllep, however, decided not to contest the election even as informing that he is eyeing to contest the 2023 Assembly polls.
It may be mentioned that the Congress on Thursday named Batyngshain Laitmon Ryngnga as its candidate for by-poll to Shella Assembly seat.
"The Congress president Sonia Gandhi has approved the candidature of Batyngshain Laitmon Ryngnga as Congress candidate for the ensuing bye-election to the Legislative Assembly of Meghalaya from 26-Shella- ST Constituency," a release from AICC general secretary Mukul Wasnik said.
SHELLA TO WITNESS BATTLE OF THE 'SEVEN'
As of now, a total number of seven candidates are in the fray for the bye-election in Shella.
But so far only two candidates have filed the nomination which include UDP candidate, Balajied Kupar Synrem and independent candidate, Komen Laitmon, who filed his nomination on Thursday.
When contacted, Meghalaya Chief Electoral Officer, F.R. Kharkongor informed that no candidate filed their nomination on Friday.
Majority of the candidates are expected to file their nominations on Monday which is the final day for the filing of the nominations.