SHILLONG, May 26 - The Congress has exposed chinks in the political strongholds of Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) across several Assembly segments constituting the Shillong Lok Sabha seat in the recently concluded parliamentary elections.
Sitting Congress candidate, Vincent H Pala from Shillong seat swept 30 Assembly constituencies, out of the 36, to register his emphatic victory over his nearest rival from the United Democratic Party, Jemino Mawthoh.
Pala defeated Mawthoh by over 1.52 lakh votes. Mawthoh was the MDA�s common candidate and so was confident of doing well with the support of the constituent regional parties, including the National People�s Party.
But that was not to be. In fact, in constituencies such as Shella, held by Assembly Speaker and UDP president, Donkupar Roy, the Congress candidate did exceedingly well. Pala secured 9,752 as against Mawthoh�s 6,407 votes in Shella.
Another case is that of Pynursla held by veteran leader and deputy Chief Minister, Prestone Tynsong of the NPP. Pala secured 10,647 votes and Mawthoh 9,451 in this constituency.
In Nongpoh constituency which was held for years by veteran Congress leader and now a NPP member, DD Lapang, Pala routed the UDP candidate. Pala bagged 15,151 votes while Mawthoh got 5,256 votes.
In the other constituencies in Ri-Bhoi district, like Umsning, Umroi, Jirang, and Mawhati, Pala fared exceedingly well.
Only in two constituencies, Mawthoh surged ahead of Pala and in one barely. In Khliehriat, Mawthoh polled 15,870 votes and Pala 11,809.
In his home turf, Nongthymmai in the State Capital, which Mawthoh represented and won in the 2013 Assembly elections, Mawthoh barely scrapped home with 8,290 votes as against Pala�s 8,085.
In all the regions � Khasi Hills, Jaintia Hills and Ri-Bhoi � Pala left his rival far behind. The BJP candidate, Sanbor Shullai did well in some of the urban constituencies of the State Capital.
One of the reasons for Mawthoh�s defeat was that the Congress had a focused approach during the campaign. The party focused on connectivity, unemployment and education.
It also ran a negative campaign against the BJP and the Citizen�s Amendment Bill. Moreover, Pala is a veteran and an articulate person, which worked in his favour.
On the other hand, the MDA was a divided house from the word go. The alliance fared well in the District Council elections, fighting individually, but when it came to the national level the alliance just couldn�t combine together to fight as a unit.
Each party in the alliance � UDP, NPP, BJP, Hill State People�s Democratic Party, People�s Democratic Front has different political agendas, which at times is confusing.
Moreover, some of these political parties just couldn�t build on their State level agendas for the national level. One of the follies of the MDA is not coming out with a Common Minimum Programme, despite promises since 2018.
On the other hand, some of the regional leaders and MLAs didn�t seem to give their all during the campaign for some strange reasons. This helped the Congress candidate immensely.
Finally, despite having BJP in the alliance, it dropped the party like a hot potato fearing polarisation of votes. Whether fighting the polls together with the BJP and riding on Narendra Modi�s popularity could have helped the alliance, one would now never know.