SHILLONG, March 4 - The Congress is on the verge of losing one of its last bastions in Meghalaya with the NPP today staking claim before Governor Ganga Prasad at the Raj Bhavan here to �form a non-Congress government� with the support of regional parties.
The NPP has submitted a list of 34 legislators, which included 19 from the NPP, two from the BJP and eight from the UDP-HSPDP combine, besides four from the PDF and one independent.
�We have submitted the letter of support of 34 MLAs which include 19 from the NPP, six from the UDP, four from the PDF, two each from HSPDP and BJP, and an independent MLA,� NPP president Conrad K Sangma said emerging after meeting the Governor.
He said that it now depends on the Governor to invite the coalition to form the new government in the state. The term of the current Assembly expires on March 6.
Asked whether he would be the new coalition government�s Chief Minister, as one of the preconditions set by the regional parties, Conrad said: �We have agreed to the condition set by the three regional parties. Therefore, I am going to be the Chief Minister of the new government,� he said.
The Congress, too, had staked claim to form the government before the Governor last night. The party flew in its leaders like Ahmed Patel, Mukul Wasnik, Kamal Nath and CP Joshi to the state capital just after the election results were announced.
Kamal Nath said the party was in touch with regional parties and a decision to form an alliance would be taken soon. He further said that the North East Democratic Alliance �is a political platform and there was no pre-poll alliance... so any formation is possible.�
The UDP is part of the NEDA and so the party is inclined to go with the BJP and NPP. Nath, however, said the people have rejected the BJP �lock, stock and barrel� as it has won just two seats from the 47 it contested.
The Congress is the single largest party with 21 seats. �By virtue of being the single largest party, as per constitutional provisions, the Governor must invite the Congress first to form the government and so we have staked our claim,� Congress state working president Vincent Pala said.
All the top leaders went into a huddle at Chief Minister Mukul Sangma�s residence to chalk out their strategy. Later, Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Zenith Sangma, also the younger brother of the Chief Minister, met UDP president Donkupar Roy at his residence to convince him to join the alliance.
He went dejected and some moments later, the Chief Minister himself came and tried to convince Roy unsuccessfully. The scene was dramatic at Roy�s residence. Barely a moment after Sangma descended, NPP president Conrad Sangma accompanied with NEDA strategist Himanta Biswa Sarma too paid a visit.
First Sangma left Roy�s residence visibly upset, saying the people have given a fractured mandate and the party would respect it. �We are trying to work out with like-minded parties... let�s see,� Sangma said.
On the other hand, Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju and Union Minister of State for Tourism Alphons Kanannatham also met Roy to urge him to join the alliance with the NPP.
Rijiju said the BJP has no major role in the government formation and it is up to the regional parties to come together. He, however, said that the Congress must not indulge in horse-trading or try to break the regional alliance.
�We want a stable non-Congress government. We will be extending full support to the regional parties,� Rijiju said.