Two Lok Sabha constituencies of the State have voted in opposite directions. Though the BJP has emerged dominant in the region, it has least influence in the State. The issue of the Citizenship Amendment Bill had its fallout in this election. The public in the State with a predominantly Christian population are wary that if the BJP returns to power in Delhi, it will revive the Bill.
That is precisely one of the reasons for which the BJP went to the polls alone, while it is a partner in the State government. That is also one of the reasons for the easy victory of the Congress in the Shillong constituency for the third time in a row. In the survey, when respondents were asked if they particularly disliked any party, four-fifths of those who said they did, took the name of the BJP. Half of all respondents were also against giving the Narendra Modi government another chance.
Table 1: Support levels for CAB among the 50% who were aware of it
Though there was a multi-cornered contest this time in both the constituencies, the fight was mainly confined to the Congress and the non-Congress front excluding the BJP. After a long gap, non-Congress regional parties could come to an understanding to field common candidates in both constituencies.
The BJP wanted to face the battle alone as in the previous Assembly elections for strategic reasons.
In Shillong, Congress candidate Vincent H. Pala won the election with a huge margin of 1,52,433 votes. BJP candidate Sanbor Shullai could manage to get 76,683 votes only.
There was a three-cornered contest in Tura among the Congress, the BJP and the NPP. In the late P.A. Sangma’s turf, the youngest sibling of the family, Agatha, defeated the Congress candidate and former Chief Minister Mukul Sangma with a comfortable margin of 64,030 votes.
The issues of illegal migration, NRC, rat-hole coal mining were played up by candidates to seek votes. Pulwama and Balakot incidents had marginal influence on voters.
(R.K. Satapathy is a Professor at the Department of Political Science, North Eastern Hill University, Shillong)