- Advocate, Supreme Court & Former Additional Advocate General, Meghalaya
The election scene in the state looks more like a ‘potpourri’ of regional parties, alliances and prospective coalitions, from which the electorate is expected to exercise their choice. And hence much depends on the political culinary tastes of the people in selecting the right items from the said potpourri that make for a stable government.
This is not to forget that the elections are taking place at a very crucial point in the history of not only the State but also the country, and the world at large. A lot is at stake for the State of Meghalaya and any mistake at this stage, could cost the region dearly in terms of good governance, sustainable economy and social harmony.
At this critical juncture when Regional Parties & alliances in Meghalaya, which once played a historical role and were instrumental in the creation of the separate State of Meghalaya, are once again raising their heads, so as to form a Coalition Government, one has to consider their contemporary relevance and political viability before one endorses the Coalition Dharmathat has to come to stay in the Indian polity. But coalition governments cannot be a ‘panacea’ for all kinds of ailments since it offers a cure to meet certain political exigencies under particular circumstances.
The rise of regional parties & alliances or formation of a coalition at this stage by them, may not be in the larger interests of Meghalaya or the nation. By saying so,one is not belittling the role of these regional parties in ventilating the regional democratic aspirations of the people, by appealing to their tribal and cultural identity which is such an integral part of Meghalayan society. It must be said without mincing any words that these local parties have always lacked economic policies in a globalized economy the State can ill afford to put the clock back once again by experimenting with regional parties who were earlier in government and found to suffer from ‘Development Deficit’& coupled with ‘Governance Deficit’.
That apart, the initial years of growth of these regional parties in Meghalaya and their respective governments in the history of Meghalaya was marked by instability and quick successive change of governments. One witnessed 14 years of instability in the last 25 years except for the last 10 years which saw a stable government by the Congress Party,sensitive to the regional aspirations and local issues. The said national party believed and delivered on decentralization and devolution of power to the lower units of administration, so much so that it legislated on the Village Administration Bill which is pending assent of the Hon’ble Governor, to give more powers to the village headmen.
This federal devolution of power has to percolate to the lower rungs of the administrative ladder so as to meet the demands and expectations of the Village Headmen, by bringing them into the democratic fold under the proposed Act. This is possible only when there is a stable government in place and definitely not in an atmosphere of ‘Aya Ram gaya Ram’ era of defections, notwithstanding the stringent anti-defection laws, introduced by the then PM Prime Minister Shri Rajiv Gandhi.
It is needless to emphasize that Political stability is a ‘sine qua non’ for ‘Economic Development’. Meghalaya being a Hill State endowed with natural resources but subject to ‘Sustainable Mining’, ‘Subsistence Agriculture and Horticulture with hardly any industrial development, to boast of, has to necessarily hold the hand of the Union Government in its journey along the path of all round development of the state since it necessarily has to tap the central funds for a balanced economy.
History is a witness to the fact in Meghalaya, that only a National Party such as the Congress under the leadership of a visionary and dedicated leader can usher in faster development, so as to meet the increasing needs and demands of the people and present a comprehensive picture of the North Eastern State and enlist their support and confidence which alone makes for national integration.
The performance of the Congress Government in the State during the last one decade, under the able and dynamic leadership of Dr. Mukul Sangma and the possibility of providing a stable government in the future too, should be weighed against the possible plunge into instability, chaos, insolent terrorism, economic retardation and social disharmony,that could take the state back by several decades,especially when it has to catch up with the developmental goals set for itself and also by the UN, if the state misses is not to miss its rendezvous with a stable and development oriented government.