Going along from the humiliation of 2013 when the party failed to gain an individual seat in the 13 Assembly seats it fought, the BJP in 2018 is determined to ensure a complete reverse of fortunes in poll-bound Meghalaya. Creating a development versus corruption scenario, the party is likewise trying to cash on the charisma of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. With party president Amit Shah set a steep target of achieving ‘Mission 40’ in a 60-seat Assembly, the stakes are high this time.
For the BJP to win 40 out of 60 seats in Meghalaya will be no mean task, even with the best poll-winning brains of Modi and Shah combined. Way back in 1998, the party had won three Assembly seats but has produced little advance since then. Still, this track record will not watch, count for much when the state votes on 27 February, with the party getting out all guns blazing, attracting members from other political parties and betting big on the development schedule.
“Only recently, four sitting MLAs joined the BJP. Before that, four former MLAs joined the party. If the BJP had no prospects, why would they join the party? Meghalaya had seen no development for the last 10 years. There had been a great deal of depravity. Politics of development are catching currency in the state. When states like Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh are getting the benefit of development from their respective BJP governments, why should Meghalaya be denied this?” BJP national spokesperson Nalin Kohli said.
The party is optimistic this time, far more than it was before. “We are working very hard. We are hoping to form a government. We have not finalized the names of the candidates yet. We have shortlisted the names and have sent them to our Central Election Committee for approval. The announcement of names will be made in a phase-wise manner. We want to fight in as many seats as possible,” said Meghalaya BJP president Shibun Lyngdoh.
BJP delinks RSS?
The BJP, even so, firmly denies that its parent organization — the RSS — is providing them whatever sort of aid. “The RSS is a social organization. BJP is a political party. I don’t see any combination here. RSS is in Meghalaya since 1980. BJP was part of the government in 1998. The BJP works like any other political party. The RSS has its own members. These members are free to support any candidate from any party. There is no connection between the two entities,”