Turncoats galore in poll-bound Meghalaya, Tripura

Agartala/Shillong, Nov 13 (IANS) After seven MLAs quit the ruling BJP-IPFT alliance in Tripura, at least five legislators are likely to quit their respective parties in Meghalaya.
Meghalaya, Tripura and Nagaland will go to the polls in February next year.
Party sources said that two MLAs of the Hill State People’s Democratic Party (HSPDP), including a minister, are likely to quit the party and switch sides in Meghalaya.
HSPDP is one of the constituents of the six-party Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) coalition government, led by Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma’s National People’s Party (NPP).
The two disgruntled HSPDP MLAs are now maintaining distance from the party.
Meanwhile, Meghalaya BJP President Ernest Mawrie claimed that three sitting MlAs — two from the NPP and one from the main opposition Trinamool Congress — would join the party soon. On of these MLAs is from East Khasi Hills, while the two others are from Garo Hills.
With two MLAs — Alexander Laloo Hek (Pynthorumkhrah) and Sanbor Shullai (South Shillong) — BJP is a partner in the MDA government.
Shullai is now a Cabinet minister in the MDA government and in-charge of five departments, including animal husbandry & veterinary and labour.
For the past two months, BJP is threatening to withdraw support from the MDA.
Ernest Mawrie, former minister Alexander Hek, and BJP’s Meghalaya in-charge M. Chuba Ao had separately said earlier that the state party leaders have decided to withdraw support from the MDA government.
The relationship between BJP and NPP soured since the saffron party’s state vice-president Bernard N. Marak was arrested on July 25 for allegedly running a ‘brothel’.
The BJP had described Marak’s arrest as “political vendetta”, while Ao had alleged that Marak was framed.
In Tripura, BJP MLA Burba Mohan Tripura and three other legislators belonging to BJP’s ally Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT) — Mevar Kumar Jamatia, Brishaketu Debbarma and Dhananjoy Tripura — have joined the Tipraha Indigenous Progressive Regional Alliance (TIPRA), an influential tribal-based party, locally called Tipra Motha.
Mevar Kumar Jamatia had been the Forest and Tribal Welfare Minister in the BJP-IPFT government.
TIPRA now governs the politically-important Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC), which has a jurisdiction on over two-third of Tripura’s 10,491 sq km area and is home to over 12,16,000 people, of which around 84 per cent are tribals, making the 30-member autonomous body a mini-assembly after the 60-member Tripura Assembly.
Earlier, BJP MLAs Ashis Das, Sudip Roy Barman and Ashis Kumar Saha had quit the party and the Assembly after open differences with then Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb.
Das joined the Trinamool Congress last year but quit it in May this year, while Roy Barman, also a former BJP Minister, and Saha joined the Congress in February this year.

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