Shillong: The National People’s Party (NPP), which is an ally of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at the Centre, is walking a tightrope over the Manipur political crisis.
The NPP, which was formed by late PA Sangma after if quit the Congress and the NCP, is in a ruling alliance with non-Congress parties in Meghalaya. Led by Meghalaya chief minister Conrad Sangma, the party has traditionally been anti-Congress.
However, in Manipur, four of the party’s MLAs who were supporting the BJP, have decided to go with the Congress after the leaders brought charges of high-handedness against the BJP. Their withdrawal of support to the government prompted Conrad and North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) chief Himanta Biswa Sarma to camp in Manipur on Sunday.
The Congress too sent his senior leaders, Gaurav Gogoi and Ajay Maken to the NE state.
Sarma said on Monday that he is keeping tab on the situation and that a decision would be made in two or three days. He added that the outcome of their discussions with aggrieved leaders would be in the interest of NEDA, hinting that the BJP-led coalition government in Manipur led by N Biren Singh would be safe.
If NPP manages to convince its leaders to stay on board the BJP coalition, then it would mean that it was giving in to the big brother that allegedly did not follow a common minimum programme in Manipur and kept the allies in the dark about its Rajya Sabha candidate. The dissenting leaders have to swallow their pride and toe the party line. This will not show NPP in good light and its image of a prominent NE party on national platform will suffer.
On the other hand, if NPP in Manipur decides to support the Congress, then it would be difficult for the party chief to explain the move to allies in Meghalaya.
Conrad, the young leader who is active on social media, has surprisingly remained quiet on the Manipur crisis on social media. Earlier, there had been speculations that the Manipur crisis might spill over to Meghalaya making the NPP-led coalition weak. But Conrad had allayed fears that there would be rippling effects in Meghalaya.
But whether the NPP decides to go back to the BJP-led coalition, of course with a better deal and more teeth in the alliance, or support the Congress in a state-specific political strategy, it will come with a cost. In the first scenario, it will show the party’s weakness and its tendency to tag along with a prominent national party without a voice of its own. This has already been proved once during the CAB decision in the Lok Sabha when NPP’s Agatha Sangma voted for the bill despite the party fighting against it in the NE.
In the second scenario, the party’s double standards on choosing friends and allies will be exposed. However, NPP won’t be the first political party to pick allies as per convenience. It will be considered a political tactic. It is better this way than being called a weak party following the big brother. It is also true that if NPP chooses Congress in Manipur, Conrad has to do a lot of convincing back home.
Senior leaders of both NPP and BJP have remained discreet about the political crisis. Sarma is scheduled to hold a press conference in Imphal on Tuesday.