‘I eat beef and I am in BJP, I see no problem in it’, says Meghalaya BJP chief

Guwahati: The political situation in poll-bound Meghalaya is both interesting and confusing. The Bharatiya Janata Party’s top leaders are training their guns on their former coalition partner Conrad Sangma and his National People’s Party (NPP), with Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma leading the attack.

Meghalaya has become the number one corrupt state in the country under NPP rule, according to Shah, despite that BJP has been a partner of the government led by the NPP for the last five years and still continuing in it.

The BJP leaders have said that they do not have any alliance with Conrad Sangma’s party, however, NPP is a part of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA). The BJP state president, Ernest Mawrie, spoke to IANS for an explainer of what has been cooking in the hill state.

IANS: There is a lot of confusion. Are the NPP and BJP allies?

Ernest Mawrie: In Meghalaya, we have not forged any alliance with the NPP, and we have not done so in 2018. We are fighting on our own, and they are also fighting on their individual strengths. NPP has been involved in large-scale corruption for the last five years, and our party has taken a stand for zero tolerance against corruption.

IANS: But you were also part of the NPP-led government.

Ernest Mawrie: Yes, we have been in the MDA government. But the BJP had only two MLAs and a single minister, and we did not have any important portfolio in the ministry. The departments like power and others where most of the corruption happened over the last five years were either with the NPP or their alliance partner, the UDP.

IANS: How could you know about the corruption?

Ernest Mawrie: Through a lot of RTI applications we filed in the last year or so, we have seen how rampant corruption was going on in Meghalaya under the current regime. We have all records.

IANS: Then why did not you leave the government and surprisingly you have a minister till today!

Ernest Mawrie: Look, BJP is a national party, and we cannot take the decision to leave or forge an alliance at the local level. We had informed the party hierarchy about what has been happening in Meghalaya and were waiting for them to take a call in this matter.

The NPP has been continuing to be a part of the NDA and the North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) here. So, the NEDA chairman or the party leaders in Delhi must decide on this issue.

IANS: Have you discussed the corruption issue with NEDA chairman Himanta Biswa Sarma?

Ernest Mawrie: Yes, yes. Whenever the Assam Chief Minister met us in the last couple of years, we told him about the corruption. He advised us to wait for a decision.

IANS: Political analysts are saying that the BJP has been keeping a door open to be back in the government if NPP returns to power.

Ernest Mawrie: No, you should not look into it that way. This time, we have fielded candidates for all 60 seats in the state. We are expecting a good show, and after the poll result, we may look for parties whose hands are not immersed in corruption.

IANS: But, you have too few options to choose from. You cannot go with Congress or TMC.

Ernest Mawrie: It is impossible to go with these two parties. Right now, we are concentrating on winning as many seats as possible. We have a projection to win 34 out of the total 60 seats in the assembly.

IANS: Between Conrad Sangma and Mukul Sangma, who is the better Chief Minister?

Ernest Mawrie: I cannot draw a comparison between them. I have already talked about Conrad Sangma’s corruption. If Trinamool wins here, the state will witness large-scale Bangladeshi infiltration. We have been facing this issue for quite a long time, and we just cannot ‘invite’ more Bangladeshi people here.

IANS: But the BJP has brought the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

Ernest Mawrie: First, in the CAA, a timeline has been established after which no people from Bangladesh will be allowed to live here. Moreover, the Centre introduced CAA more than three years ago. Have you seen any Bangladeshi infiltration issues? The answer is no.

IANS: In a state like Meghalaya, where at least 90 percent follow Christianity, do you believe that people are ready to accept the BJP’s hardliner stands on the beef ban, CAA, and other issues?

Ernest Mawrie: It has been nine years since the BJP came to power at the Centre, and we have not seen any Church under attack. There is no restriction being put on consuming beef too. I eat beef and I am in BJP, there is absolutely no problem with this. I am assuring you that the people of Meghalaya are with the BJP this time. You will see that on March 2.


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