Senior United Democratic Party (UDP) leader and former Speaker of the Meghalaya Assembly, Bindo Mathew Lanong, is determined to contest the 2023 elections from Nongkrem constituency despite indications that he may not get the party ticket even as he said that he would not be able to join any other political party.
When asked if he will still contest the 2023 elections if the UDP does not give him ticket, Lanong said, “To back out at this moment would be like doing injustice to my group who has been working for me since the last one year and I am not leaving my people half way.”
It may be mentioned that Lanong has been a Member of District Council (MDC) from Malki-Laitumkhrah constituency as well as a legislator of the erstwhile Malki-Nongthymmai constituency twice. The senior UDP leader said that he has never switched parties in his political career.
According to him he started as an MDC of the All Party Hill Leaders Conference (APHLC) in 1972 when he was 24 years old. The party finally folded in 1994 when the Hill People’s Union (HPU) was formed that year when some legislators of the Hill State People’s Democratic Party (HSPDP) too joined it.
He said that he has been part of the UDP, which was formed in 1997, when some legislators led by EK Mawlong of the HSPDP, the Public Demands Implementation Convention (PDIC) and the HPU merged.
Asked why he left East Shillong for Nongkrem constituency, Lanong said that after the delimitation process in the former constituency there are a number of non-tribals. He said that only if he joins a national party then only he would get support.
“But if I continue to be with a regional party I don’t stand a chance to win. I have never changed parties. Therefore, instead of changing parties I decided to switch to another constituency,” the senior UDP leader said.
He also said that the leadership of the UDP has not made any contact or discussed the matter with him.
Lanong said that in July, UDP president Metbah Lyngdoh told the central election committee of the party that the voice of many in Nongkrem constituency favours the sitting legislator (Lambor Malngiang).
“Now all that is left is to announce the names. The decision has already been taken,” the senior UDP leader said.
He said that the decision not to give him the UDP ticket is a betrayal of him as a senior member of the party.
“What is the future of such a party? Let the public decide,” he said.
Asked to comment on the claim of the party that it will lead the government in 2023, the senior party leader said that before elections everybody makes such claims adding that denying him a ticket would cost the party dear.
Lanong also said that many aspiring candidates who are educated, good in administration who want to contest the 2023 polls are backing out, maybe because they are fed up with the system.
“They are people who are knowledgeable. Maybe they have seen there is no place for them in a group where everyone is thinking of themselves. These are dangerous signs,” he said.
He said that the present leadership in the party is weak even as he recounted an incident of 2008.
Lanong claimed that in 2008 the present general secretary of the party Jemino Mawthoh met Dr Donkupar Roy and urged him to deny the senior UDP leader party ticket from Nongthymmai constituency in favour of Mawthoh.
“Dr Donkupar Roy replied I would rather lose one seat than give up bah Bindo. That was his reply. He was a farsighted leader,” he said.
Lanong won the 2008 polls from Nongthymmai defeating Mawthoh who contested from the Nationalist Congress Party.
He went on to become the Speaker and the Deputy Chief Minister during that term.