Elections 2023: It’s once again crowded in Meghalaya, and no one’s complaining

Small constituencies, local interests, tribal rivalries encourage sprouting of regional parties, which come up as quickly as they disappear – never kings, only kingmakers

As Meghalaya heads for Assembly elections on February 27, almost all political parties are candid about being open to post-poll possibilities. It is only natural – given that coalition governments are somewhat of a norm in the hill state.

At the heart of it, observers say, is the sheer number of regional parties that dot the electoral landscape in the state. Mostly known by their acronyms, many disintegrate as quickly as they are formed, often months before an election.

In 2018, for instance, as many as seven-state based parties – apart from the ruling National People’s Party (NPP), which now has footprints in several other states of the region, too – contested the election. Together, they accounted for a formidable 13 seats and nearly 30 per cent vote share in the 60-seater Assembly.


These parties included the United Democratic Party (UDP), which won 6 seats, the People’s Democratic Front (PDF), which got 4 constituencies, the Hill State People’s Democratic Party (HSPDP), which won 2 seats, and the Khun Hynniewtrep National Awakening Movement (KHNAM), that cornered 1 seat.

In 2013, six regional parties were in the fray, in a more one-sided election by the state’s standards. However, they still accounted for nearly 25 per cent share of votes, and 14 seats.

Ditto in 2008: five Meghalaya-based parties snared 30 per cent of the vote share and 17 seats. That year, they also formed a short-lived government.

What explains this wide proliferation of small parties in the state, particularly when compared to the other tribal states in the region where fewer regional electoral forces exist?

This article was originally published in The Indian Express in February 2022 in the run up to the Meghalaya Assembly Elections. Full article here.