Shillong, Dec 6: United Democratic Party (UDP), one of the largest regional political parties in the state, on Tuesday announced its first list of 32 candidates for the upcoming 2023 Assembly elections in the state.
The UDP is the main ally of the National People’s Party (NPP)-led Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) government.
Seven sitting legislators were among the names of candidates announced by UDP supremo and Assembly Speaker Metbah Lyngdoh, who will seek re-election from Mairang constituency.
The list approved by the state election committee (SEC) includes three cabinet ministers – Kyrmen Shylla (Khliehriat), Lahkmen Rymbui (Amlarem) and Brolding Nongsiej (Mawthadraishan) and three sitting legislators – Nujorki Sungoh (Mookaiaw), Balajied Kupar Synrem (Shella), Pius Marwein (Ranikor).
The UDP has also allotted tickets to five sitting MDCs of the two autonomous district councils (ADCs) which include KHADC chief Titosstarwell Chyne (Sohra), Executive Members – Paul Lyngdoh (West Shillong) and Mitchel Wankhar (Mylliem) and two JHADC MDCs – Dawan Lyngdoh (Nartiang), Treilang Suchiang (Raliang).
Four former MLAs – HDR Lyngdoh (Sohiong), Jemino Mawthoh (Nongthymmai), Luderberth Ch Momin (Kharkutta), Remington Pyngrope (Mawkynrew) and former JHADC chief Moonlight Pariat (Jowai) were also granted tickets by the party.
The UDP is also fielding two MBBS doctors including former Director of Health Services (DHS) Dr Aman War (North Shillong) and Dr Osaphi Smithson Jyrwa (Mawryngkneng) and former government officials that include former PWD Executive Engineer Baiahunang Makdoh (Mawhati), ex-service man Taposh D Marak (Resubelpara) and former assistant director, Agriculture Olan Singh Suin (Mawsynram).
There are also two social workers – Anthony Khongwang (Pynursla) and Rakkam Ch Marak (Bajengdoba).
The other candidates include Badhok Nongmalieh (Jirang), Sunshine Makri (Umsning), Polestar Nongsiej (Nongstoin) Subroto G Marak (Mendipathar), Andreash G Momin (Rongjeng), Ronald Rikman Sangma (Salmanpara), Kennethson R Sangma (Dalu) and Ashahel D Shira (Rajabala).
After felicitating all the candidates, Metbah Lyngdoh said there is a growing need for a strong-independent political alternative, which could stand up for the aspirations of the people of the state.
In politics, regionalism is an ideology that highlights the local identity, the need for independent regional planning and administrative freedom. “I feel there is scope for a regional political party in the state to fulfil the dreams of the youth and the need of the people of Meghalaya, which the national parties have failed in doing so,” Lyngdoh said.
He also claimed, “In UDP, we have no high command and no big boss culture, political arrogance to stops us from thinking about the state. That is why a section of people, who are associated with these national parties, have now joined the UDP.”
He said the state of Meghalaya has always seen national parties dominating the political landscape of this North Eastern state. Unlike the other states like Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim where regional parties rule the roost, the UDP that was founded by late EK Mawlong is a bigger player here.
Referring to the MDA government, the UDP chief said, “In the government that we are today, our role is nonetheless like a team to look after the welfare of the people of the state and we have been able to save the state from losing its good image.”
In the previous election, he said the party managed to hold on to its strongholds and win a respectable number of seats but didn’t have enough numbers to form the government on its own as the regional party is limited only to a few pockets.
“We hope that this 2023, people will give us the mandate since in many pockets, the people of the state are in search of an independent political voice of their own,” he asserted.
Stating that many see UDP as a political alternative in Meghalaya, Lyngdoh said, “There is a political vacuum to be filled but the party has not been able to convince the voters and present itself as a viable political choice for them. I strongly believe that only a regional party can develop our state, stand against injustice meted out to the state and stand up for its language and culture.”
“If the states of Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Bengal and Odisha can have their own regional parties why not Meghalaya, and we pledge that we will do anything for the poor and the marginalised of the state,” he said.