Respect people's mandate: Mukul Sangma to BJP

Meghalaya map as seen in Election Commission of India site

Shillong: After emerging as the single largest party in Meghalaya, the Congress staked a claim to form a government in the state at a meeting with Governor Ganga Prasad, officials and party leaders said on Sunday.

"Running a coalition government is never easy but I am confident that the MLAs who are with us are very committed to the state and people, and will work towards development of the state", he said. BJP had earlier also expressed its desire to extend support to any non-Congress party if they want to form government. "People have grown wary of the misdeeds and misrule of the Congress and pinning their hopes on change", BJP's election strategist and Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said. At least 30 seats are required by a political party or an alliance to form the government.

"We are hopeful that we will be able to form the government".

The NPP, which secured 19 seats on its own, has the backing of six United Democratic Party (UDP) legislators, four People's Democratic Front (PDF) MLAs, two each from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Hill State People's Democratic Party (HSPDP) MLAs and an Independents legislator, taking the combined strength of the alliance to 34.

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Among Congress stalwarts who have lost are former chief minister Salseng C. Marak, defeated by former deputy chief minister and NPP candidate Timothy D. Shira at Resubelpara.

On the other hand, senior leaders of the Congress, which emerged as the single largest party in Meghalaya with 21 seats, met the Governor on Saturday night to stake claim to form the new government.

The move puts the BJP in power in effectively six of the seven Northeastern states, barring Mizoram, the lone state where the Congress is in power.

Having paid a heavy price for its slothful responses in Manipur and Goa a year ago, Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Saturday dispatched probably the best possible team of Ahmed Patel, Kamal Nath and Mukul Wasnik to deal with the fractured mandate in Meghalaya.

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"The voice of the people should be respected and the BJP winning only two seats has proven that people rejected them", he added.

Having drawn a blank in Tripura and Nagaland, the Congress is struggling to retain Meghalaya, which it has ruled for the last 10 years with Mukul Sangma at the helm.

Although it has become clear that the BJP is not a force to reckon with in Meghalaya, national politics dictated that Congress focus its energy on the BJP rather than NPP.

While the NPP secured 19 seats in the polls, the ruling Congress could manage to secure only 21 seats.

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