By Our Editor
Hardly six months are left before the next Meghalaya Assembly elections are held some time in February-March 2023. Political parties and potential candidates besides sitting legislators have started campaigning by visiting different localities of their respective constituencies and they are quite busy in their efforts leaving no stone unturned to solicit people’s support. New parties are emerging with promise of better future while a few may disappear, especially those regional parties with less number of representatives, the most prominent being Hill State People’s Democratic Party (HSPDP) which was formed in 1969 under the leadership of Hoping Stone Lyngdoh and an offshoot of All Party Hills Leaders Conference (APHLC). In the first general election to the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly in 1972 it won a few seats before increasing the number to 14 seats in 1978 after APHLC with 16 seats and Indian National Congress (INC) being the single largest party with 20 seats. Bowing to wishes of people for coalition government of regional parties, which included two MLAs of Public Demand Implementation Convention (PDIC), one from Jaintia National Union (JNU) and seven independents under the chief ministership of DD Pugh of the APHLC and HSPDP also became active partner. But the coalition lasted slightly more than a year. However, in the new coalition government, which included INC, the HSPDP made its presence felt and all along H.S Lyngdoh was the dominant force. But after emergence of United Democratic Party (UDP) in 1997, HSPDP began to slide downward.
After the death of HSPDP supremo H.S Lyngdoh a few years after his last election of 2013, the party began to lose its momentum so that in the last general election of 2018 it got a mere two seats of Mawkyrwat and Sohiong in the South West Khasi Hills district and East Khasi Hills district respectively. So far the party did not win even a single seat in Garo Hills districts. Under NPP-led Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) the HSPDP with only two MLAs managed one post of minister, Samlin Malngiang, from Sohiong constituency sharing the first two-and-a-half years and Renikton Lyngdoh Tongkhar from Mawkyrwat the remaining half. It was only a matter of time before these two also began to drift apart and are seeking better pastures for the next general election 2023.
Renikton Lyngdoh Tongkhar has expressed his desire to contest from the UDP and in his place the HSPDP has chosen Medalsing Lyngdoh. Meanwhile, so far Samlin Malngiang has not clearly expressed his willingness to continue with the party and seems inclined towards National People’s Party (NPP). The fate of HSPDP is uncertain and quite gloomy because UDP, erstwhile partner of Regional Democratic Alliance (RDA) with HSPDP in 2018, does not want to continue its relationship. If so, will the lion stop roaring in 2023 only time will tell.