The Congress in Meghalaya emerged as the single largest party in the Garo Hills Autonomous District Council (GHADC), winning 12 of the 29 seats where elections were held on April 12.
The National People’s Party (NPP), which rules the State in alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party and a few regional parties, took the second spot with 11 seats.
The BJP sprang a surprise by winning two seats followed by the regional Garo National Council (GNC) that bagged one seat. Independents won the remaining three seats.
The NPP had won 10 seats in the 2015 GHADC elections but it went on to form the local government because of defections from other parties. The anti-defection law does not apply to any of the tribal councils in Meghalaya.
The party had battled anti-incumbency because of charges of rampant corruption and failure to pay the employees under the council for 33-35 months.
The verdict against the NPP was evident from the defeat of GHADC’s chief executive member Dipul Marak. He lost the Rochonpara seat to independent candidate Arbinestone Marak.
The NPP also suffered a jolt in the Tura seat, the domain of State Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma. State BJP vice-president Bernard N. Marak won the seat.
“It is a victory against corruption,” said the BJP leader, who had unearthed a ₹100-crore scam in the GHADC through Right to Information applications.
“We accept the people’s verdict,” said W.R. Kharlukhi, senior NPP leader and the party’s Rajya Sabha member.
Despite the “upset”, the NPP may rule the GHADC again in partnership with the BJP, the GNC and the independents. Councils in Meghalaya have had a history of going with the party or coalition that rules the State.