Meghalaya: Will keep cards close to chest, says Mukul Sangma

Shillong: Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma today said the election results were not on expected lines and he would keep his cards close to his chest with regard to the Congress forming government in the State.

Sangma’s comments came as the trends suggested Meghalaya was heading for a hung Assembly.

“The results were not on expected lines, but I am still looking forward,” he said.

Asked if the Congress would be able to form government again in Meghalaya, Sangma said he would not like to reveal his party’s plan now.

“I would like to keep my cards close to the chest,” he said.

Elections to the 60-member Meghalaya Assembly were held on 27 February.

According to the available trends for Meghalaya, the Congress has won nine seats and is leading in 11. The NPP has won three seats and is ahead in 16 seats.

The BJP is leading in two seats. Smaller parties and Independents have grabbed six seats and forged ahead in 12 seats.

The Congress has been in power in Meghalaya since 2003 and Sangma has been at the helm of affairs since 2010.

After the Assembly elections in Manipur and Goa threw hung verdicts last year, the BJP was able to form governments there with the help of smaller parties and Independents.

Facing a similar situation, the BJP has asked Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma to rush to Meghalaya for holding talks with smaller parties and Independents.

The Congress has also rushed senior leaders Ahmed Patel and Kamal Nath to Shillong.



Tripura CM can take shelter in West Bengal, Kerala, B’desh: Sarma

Agartala: Outgoing Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar can take shelter in West Bengal, Kerala or neighbouring Bangladesh as the BJP is going to form the next government in the State, Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said today.

“Manik Sarkar has just three options before him. He can go to West Bengal, where the CPI-M still has some presence. He can go to Kerala, where the party is in power and will rule for three more years or he can go to neighbouring Bangladesh,” Sarma told reporters here when asked about his comments on Sarkar during an election rally.

The BJP leader had kicked up a row by reportedly saying that the Tripura chief minister would be sent to Bangladesh after the assembly elections in the State.

Sarma reportedly made the remark at an election rally in Dhanpur, Sarkar’s constituency, while criticising the State government over the alleged deteriorating law and order situation and cross-border crimes.

The 69-year-old chief minister has governed Tripura since 1998. He is a politburo member of CPI-M and has been ruling the State for the fourth consecutive time.

Elections in 59 seats, out of the 60-member Tripura Assembly, were held on 18 February. The election in one seat was countermanded due to the death of the CPI-M candidate.

The BJP and its ally Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT) were leading in 40 out of the 59 constituencies whose trends were available, according to Election Commission sources here today.


India Northeast

IPFT will no longer raise demand for separate state, says BJP

Agartala: The BJP, which is in the process of finalising a pre-poll alliance with the Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT), today said the anti-Left tribal party will no longer raise its demand for a separate state.

A joint statement on the matter will be signed soon by the authorised signatories of both parties, BJP state in- charge Sunil Deodhar said.

“The IPFT will not raise the demand for Twipraland or a separate state. It would work according to the agreed common minimum programme between the two parties,” he claimed.

The saffron party has also promised to attend to the problems of the tribal people of Tripura.

“We have agreed to address the socio-economic, socio-cultural and linguistic concerns of the tribals in the state”, Deodhar said.

The talks for forging an electoral alliance with IPFT were held at a two-day meeting in Guwahati last week, he said.

“Assam finance minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, who is also the chairman of North East Democratic Alliance, and BJP national general secretary Ram Madhav arrived in the state yesterday to work out the modalities of a pre-poll alliance with other anti-Left tribal parties,” Deodhar said.

The BJP wants to provide more autonomy to tribals, who constitute one-third of the population in the state, and empower the tribal council, he claimed.

“After the finalisation of the alliance with IPFT, we can confidently say that we would win at least 18 of the 20 tribal-reserved seats and secure a huge majority in the sixty-member assembly,” he said.

Deodhar said his party will not allow the division of the state.

“The tribal council will be empowered to provide more autonomy to all the 19 tribes of the state. The council will get one-third of the state budget when the alliance is in power,” he said.

Tripura will go to polls on 18 February and the results for the 60 constituencies will be announced on 3 March.


India Northeast

Tripura poll: BJP, IPFT in talks for an electoral alliance

Agartala: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT) have made substantial progress in discussions to form electoral alliance for assembly elections in Tripura. The final round of talks will be held in Gauhati today before issuing a joint declaration on the terms of alliance.

The final round of The first round of talks for an electoral alliance between BJP and tribal IPFT for the Tripura assembly election was held here on Wednesday where it was decided that a joint statement would be signed before seat sharing.

Assam BJP leader and chairman of North East Democratic Alliance(NEDA), Himanta Biswa Sarma said that the joint statement would contain issues like adressing of socio-economic, socio-cultural and linguistic problems of the tribals of Tripura.

The NEDA is a political coalition formed in 2016 by BJP along with regional political parties like Naga People’s Front, Sikkim Democratic Front, People’s Party of Arunachal, Asom Gana Parishad and Bodoland People’s Front in northeast India.

Sarma, who is also the BJP election in-charge of Tripura, told a news conference that talks would be held in Guwahati tomorrow on preparation of the statement.

The statement would be signed by the president of Tripura unit of BJP, Biplab Kumar Deb and IPFT president N C Debbarma and then discussion on seat sharing would be started.

“We hope to finalise the entire deal within two to three days and then the statement would be made public,” he said.

BJP s party machinery was fully geared up to face the election in all the 60 assembly constituencies and the party was confident about its massive victory and defeat of CPI-M, which ruled Tripura for the last 25 years.

We hope that the Election Commission will declare the poll in the state within two to three days and after declaration of the election our workers and leaders in every booth would take the pledge for BJP’s victory and start intensive work for it,” Sarma said.

He alleged that the ruling CPI-M in Tripura had forced 1.5 lakh state government employee to pay subscription of Rs 3000 on an average and collected Rs 4.5 crore which is tantamount to extortion. BJP would lodge a complaint to the EC for taking appropriate actions against the left party.

“If any employee says that he paid the subscription voluntarily then that too it is illegal because government employee cannot subscribe to any political party,” Sarma said.

He claimed that on an average in every constituency in Tripura there are 1500 false, fake or dead voters even after publication of the final voters list. “We demand that EC for correction of the voter list”.



No madrassah in Assam any more

Guwahati: Assam Education Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma declared through a tweet on 9 May that the board for madrassah education in the State would soon be disbanded.

He had earlier taken exception to the fact that madrassahs in Assam observed a holiday on Fridays, which, according to him was like following in the footsteps of Pakistanis and Bangladeshi. He had even warned of administrative action against madrassahs that still dared to keep their centres closed on Fridays.

Sarma has stated further that Kumar Bhaskar Varma Sanskrit & Ancient Studies University will look after the Sanskrit schools in the State. “We want to introduce modern learning like computers in these educational institutes. For doing this, we have to change the existing structure,” Sarma said in the Assam Assembly during a cut motion on Supplementary Demands for Grants for Mid-Day Meal Scheme.

The Madrasa Education Board in Assam dates back to 1934. It had 9 Islamic schools under it. After independence, it was renamed as the State Madrasa Education Board, Assam. At present, the board has over 700 madrassahs under it.

The education minister also said that the government would make examinations mandatory from Class V in all schools. “Earlier, there was no exams till Class VIII. Now we want to change it to Class IV. After that, there will be examinations,” Sarma said.

The current BJP government of the State had taken office after the party won the Assembly election riding on the concern of Hindu voters that the State of Assam was getting adversely affected by Islamisation due to Muslim settlers, especially infiltrators from Bangladesh.

In March, the State government had sacked a madrassah teacher Maqsood Alam Dewan 6 years after a foreigners’ tribunal had declared him a Bangladeshi. He used to be an assistant teacher at the Telahi Islamia Senior Madrasa in Morigaon district.