The United Democratic Party (UDP) is all pumped up to face the polls as 12 MLAs will contest the upcoming polls and the party has so far announced 40 candidates even as it will declare more names in the days to come.
General secretary of the party Jemino Mawthoh said, “As Bah Renik (Renikton Lyngdoh Tongkhar) said that there are 12 sitting MLAs that are contesting the elections, we should multiply with 3 and cross 30. We should have such hope.”
In his speech, Tongkhar said that in the 2018 Assembly elections, the UDP won six seats, People’s Democratic Front (PDF) four, and Hill State People’s Democratic Party (HSPDP) won two seats.
The party on January 18 officially inducted five former MLAs into its fold at a function held at its office party.
Cabinet minister Renikton Lyngdoh Tongkhar (Mawkyrwat), Shitlang Pale (Saipung-Sutnga), Mayralborn Syiem (Nongpoh), Lambor Malngiang (Nongkrem), Process T. Sawkmie (Mawlai) joined the UDP at a function attended by UDP their supporters.
Earlier in the day, the five of them tendered their resignation as MLAs to the Speaker of Meghalaya Legislative Assembly Metbah Lyngdoh.
Tongkhar defected from HSPDP, Pale, who was earlier a suspended Congress member, moved from Trinamool Congress to UDP, the other suspended Congress members were Syiem and Sawkmie while Malngiang is an Independent candidate.
National People’s Party (NPP) MDC of Jaintia Hills Autonomous District Council (JHADC) Arbor Hima Darnei from Saipung also joined the UDP on the same day. Former MDCs and an independent candidate who contested the JHADC elections joined the UDP.
The party also launched its website and released a UDP song in Khasi and Garo languages.
The UDP has so far announced 40 candidates so far (32, 2, 1 and 5 in the first, second, third and fourth list respectively).
PT Sawkmie could not attend due to personal reasons although he has assured the UDP president that he will contest from the party.
Party president Metbah Lyngdoh said, “We need to change the 2023 elections.” He urged the party leaders and the candidates to be humble and urged the people to not run after cash.
Tongkhar said, “The UDP won six seats in 2018 Assembly elections, and now 12 sitting MLAs will contest the election, from 6 to 12, We are hopeful, the 12 it will become 24.”
He observed that the attempt to strengthen all regional parties will only lead to weaknesses as it was in the last election. It was in 2017 that the UDP and the HSPDP made a pre-poll pact.
“There is not one strong regional party, in an attempt to strengthen all parties, in the end, all become weak,” he said.
Congress sans any MLA
Meanwhile, three-time MLA Shitlang Pale was a Congress veteran who defected to Trinamool Congress. However, he again switched as he said that the people are not too confident when it comes to TMC as it is a new party.
“People in the state are turning their attention to the UDP,” he said.
As for the Congress party, he said that the grand old party is mired in misunderstanding which has led to MLAs moving away from it.
“In 2018, there were 21 MLAs. In this upcoming election, there is not a single MLA that is with the Congress party,” Pale said.
Nongkrem candidate Lambor Malngiang said that he felt he should join the UDP as it is one of the oldest regional parties in the state. He had contested the 2018 Assembly elections as an Independent candidate.
“We have mostly seen that parties who govern us are from outsiders of the state. Without a doubt, we will get more than 20 seats,” he said as he turned to the UDP president.
Nongpoh candidate Mayralborn Syiem said that the party is 25 years old and expected that the party will address issues of the state be it border issues, inclusion of Khasi and Garo languages, Inner Line Permit (ILP), etc.
Syiem was suspended from the Congress.
He hoped that the people would give a chance to the UDP to take over the affairs of the state.