As cracks in Meghalaya BJP widen, central party leaders refuse to step in

With a solution to the ongoing bickering within the party nowhere in sight, it is expected that more political developments will likely take place in the days to come.

By Ibankyntiew Mawrie | SHILLONG:

With cracks within the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over leadership issues widening and the party seemingly divided into two factions, the central high command is yet to act upon even as it maintained that differences should be resolved among themselves.

Speaking to The Northeast Today (TNT) on Thursday, BJP national vice president and Meghalaya-in-charge, Dr M. Chuba Ao admitted that there might be some weaknesses on the part of the state party president, Ernest Mawrie, in terms of communication but “one has to understand that BJP is a national party and central leaders don’t often interfere with activities in the state or regional level.”

The rift in the BJP is nothing new. The voice of dissent was raised ever since Ernest Mawrie took over as the state party president in January 2020. And matters took an ugly turn following the suspension of a party leader from Garo Hills, KC Boro, and the subsequent axing of former health minister AL Hek from the cabinet. Ever since, the division in the party became more apparent, with one faction supporting Mawrie and the other favouring Hek as the president.

“It is an open secret. The house is divided into two. There are two factions - we want Ernest Mawrie to go and Bah Hek to come,” Boro had said recently.

Former minister and BJP leader AL Hek claimed he has been receiving complaints not only from Garo Hills but also across the Khasi and Jaintia Hills over the “style and functioning” of the state party president. 

“BJP is one. We may like or dislike the president - that is a different case. But the issue is this - we need to strengthen the party in our state,” Hek told TNT.

When asked about the demand to remove him from the post of president, Mawrie had earlier said, “I am the elected president, not nominated. According to the terms and conditions of the party’s constitution, I have to hold my office for three years. So, it will depend on the prerogative of the central leaders. I am doing my best to serve the party in the state and whatever direction given by central leaders.”

Speculations were rife that Hek would be replacing Mawrie as the president, soon after he was dropped from the cabinet last month. However, central leaders refused to entertain such speculations, stating that no such talks on change of leadership in the state were discussed.

“Our members should first study the party’s constitution. That is the problem - nobody reads the constitution. I agree - problems will be there - at the national, regional, or state level, but if everybody works together, issues can be resolved without the interference of the central high command,” Ao said.

Party members should understand and come clear on their intentions - whether they want the president’s post or work. “As members of the national party, every member should learn to work together and resolve the differences amongst themselves. Our visit to the state is to evaluate the performance of the party, not to change the leadership,” the national vice president asserted.

Reacting to a question on the removal of Hek from the cabinet, Ao reiterated that the central leadership was not consulted on the matter.

“We had no idea; we were not consulted. And when the state party president denied having made the recommendation, we are in a dilemma,” Ao said.

Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma recently affected a minor reshuffle in his cabinet by dropping Hek and inducting BJP MLA from South Shillong Sanbor Shullai “based on the recommendation of the BJP state party president”.

This news came as a shock to the former health minister who claimed that he was not consulted on the matter.

“No one was aware of this, not even the central leaders. No one talked to me - neither the party president nor the Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) government,” Hek said.

While maintaining that it is the prerogative of the Chief Minister to decide on the matter, Hek, however, argued that since BJP is an alliance partner, and the same should have been consulted with the party.

“Whether they have consulted or not with the BJP, I don’t know because the matter is not clear. So the question arises - who is the liar? Ernest or Conrad?” he asked.

With a solution to the ongoing bickering within the party nowhere in sight, it is expected that more political developments will likely take place in the days to come.

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