The NDA’s presidential nominee Ram Nath Kovind and his rival Meira Kumar will visit the Meghalaya capital this week to drum up support for their candidature.
While Kumar, the former Lok Sabha Speaker and the joint opposition candidate, would arrive on Wednesday, Kovind was scheduled to arrive on Friday.
The former diplomat-turned politician would address Congress legislators at the Annexe Hall of the Meghalaya assembly within the premises of Brookside, the house where Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore began writing his “Shesher Kobita” in 1919.
“Kumar will be addressing members of the ruling coalition the Meghalaya United Alliance government at the Annex Hall where she would formally appeal to the legislators to vote in her favour for the July 17 presidential polls,” Congress Legislature Party Secretary Kennedy Khyriem told IANS.
Exuding confidence that Kumar would be getting the maximum number of votes from Meghalaya, Khyriem said: “All 44 members (excluding the Assembly Speaker Abu Taher Mondal) in the Meghalaya United Alliance government have assured of their support to the former Lok Sabha Speaker.”
In the 60-member assembly, the Meghalaya United Alliance comprises 30 Congress members, two from the Nationalist Congress Party, and 11 Independents and one member of the North East Socialist Democratic Party.
“We have spoken to members in the opposition to support the joint opposition candidate for the presidential poll. We are hopeful of their support,” Khyriem said.
However, the Congress may lose the precious vote of one suspended Congress legislator P.N. Syiem during the presidential poll.
The share of votes from the 60 legislators of the Meghalaya assembly and three members of Parliament (two Lok Sabha members and one Rajya Sabha member) will be 3,144 for the presidential election.
While the vote share of 60 legislators is 1,020, that of three parliamentarians – Conrad Sangma, Vincent Pala and Wansuk Syiem — is 2,124.
The value of the vote of an individual MLA from Meghalaya is 17 each due to the small population size, while that of an MP is 708 each, which is the same all over the country.
The opposition National People’s Party, which has two members in the 60-member House assembly, had announced to vote in favour of Kovind. The party is an ally of the BJP-led NDA government.
However, Meghalaya’s opposition parties, the United Democratic Party and the Hill State People’s Democratic Party, are yet to decide if they would support the NDA’s or the joint opposition nominee.
“We are yet to take a decision and moreover it is a secret ballot,” UDP Chief Donkupar Roy told IANS. The UDP is also a constituent of the BJP-led North East Democratic Alliance.
Hill State People’s Democratic Party supremo Ardent Miller Basaiawmoit said that his party would be meeting soon to take a decision.
The UDP has eight members, while the HSPDP has four besides two NPP and two Independents in the opposition bench in the Meghalaya Assembly.
The opposition MPF comprises eight United Democratic Party legislators and two from the Nationalist People’s Party.
The opposition Hill State People’s Democratic Party, which has four members, and two Independents is not part of the Meghalaya People’s Front.