Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma on Thursday called up Union Home Minister Amit Shah to seek his help in securing another term after his National People's Party (NPP) fell short of a majority in the state elections. His request was met without delay.
Meghalaya's election results appeared to head the way of the exit polls, with no party in clear majority, as votes were counted on Thursday amid tight security.
Mr Sangma's party won 20 seats and was leading in six others, emerging as the single largest party. The majority mark in Meghalaya, where the assembly has 60 seats, is 31. Voting on one of the seats was cancelled and will be held later.
The United Democratic Party (UDP) was in second place, winning 11 seats. The Congress and the Trinamool Congress appeared set to win five seats each, and the BJP two.
Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, the BJP's main troubleshooter in the northeast, announced the party's decision to support Mr Sangma. However, the alliance may still need to cobble together a few more seats to cross the magic number.
Adaraniya Sri @JPNadda ji , the national president of the @BJP4India has advised the state unit of BJP, Meghalaya to support the National people's Party in forming the next government in Meghalaya. @SangmaConrad— Himanta Biswa Sarma (@himantabiswa) March 2, 2023
Conrad Sangma had already dropped a hint that his alliance with the BJP, called off ahead of the elections, may soon be back on.
"If we get a fraction of the mandate, then we have to talk to parties to form the government... If a party can give voice to the northeast at the national level, we are working towards it," Mr Sangma had told NDTV on Monday after an aggregate of four exit polls indicated that NPP might win about 20 seats.
On Thursday, he said, "I thank the people of our state for having voted for our party. We are grateful to them. We are still short of the numbers and are waiting for the final results, after which we will decide on the way forward."
Mr Sangma had held a meeting with his Assam counterpart Himanta Biswa Sarma in Guwahati after exit polls predicted a hung assembly in Meghalaya.
Exit polls had predicted that the BJP, which won only two seats in the state in 2018, will marginally expand its tally, winning six seats. The Congress could win six seats and new entrant Trinamool Congress could open its account with 11 seats, exit polls indicated.
In 2018, the BJP won only two seats but managed to form government with the NPP. This time, the two parties contested separately after a rift over corruption allegations against Mr Sangma's party.
Votes polled in 59 of the 60 assembly constituencies of the state on February 27 are being counted at 13 centres across the state. Polling in the Sohiong seat was adjourned due to the death of a candidate.