Shillong: With the Meghalaya assembly elections throwing up a fractured mandate, BJP's key strategist for the Northeast Himanta Biswa Sarma has said regional parties should join hands and form a "non-Congress" government.
Polling was held for 59 of the 60 seats in the Meghalaya assembly on February 27. Election for one seat was put off due to the death of candidate. The Congress that won 28 seats in the last assembly polls is down to 21 this time, way short of the 31 lawmakers needed to form the government.
"This is a verdict against the Congress. All parties should come together, respect people's mandate and form a government which is non-Congress," Mr Sarma, who reached Shillong on Saturday afternoon, told NDTV.
With 19 seats, the National People's Party (NPP), founded by former Lok Sabha Speaker PA Sangma and now led by his son and lawmaker Conrad Sangma, is the No. 2 party. NPP is part of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) at the centre but had contested the assembly polls on its own.
The United Democratic Party (UDP), which is part of the BJP-led North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), has won six seats.
While there are three Independents, another regional party HSPDP that has a pre-poll alliance with the UDP has won two seats. The BJP that didn't win any seat in the last elections has won two seats.
"We can't have any major role here. That will have to be played by the regional political parties -- NPP, UDP, PDF and HSPDP. We will encourage them to form a government. They have to take the plunge. Wherever they feel the BJP can facilitate their discussion, help or inspire, we will be there," said Mr Sarma when asked what role the BJP would play in government formation.
Top Congress leaders Kamal Nath are already in Meghalaya to try and cobble up the numbers. "Smaller parties have spoken to us and have assured us of support," Mr Nath told NDTV.