Shillong, Nov 17 () The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Thursday said it would field Bernard N. Marak, an extremist leader-turned-politician, against Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma in the next Assembly polls, expected to be held in February 2023.
The relationship between BJP and Sangma’s National People’s Party (NPP), which is dominating the Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) coalition government, soured since the saffron party’s state vice-president Marak was arrested on July 25 for allegedly running a ‘brothel’.
Marak, currently a district council member, was released on bail on Wednesday after over three-and-a-half months’ jail custody, on Thursday said that his arrest would have a huge impact in the upcoming Assembly elections to facilitate the people to vote for change to topple the ruling NPP-led MDA government.
BJP’s Meghalaya unit president, Ernest Mawrie earlier on Thursday said Marak would contest the South Tura seat that has been a stronghold of the Sangma family.
The Lok Sabha member of NPP, Agatha Sangma had won the seat in 2018 before resigning to make way for brother Conrad K. Sangma.
While talking to the media in Tura, Marak termed his arrest as “illegal and concocted by the NPP”, and said that the police action would be an advantage for him in the elections.
“It is going to be very interesting as in the 2018 elections, people voted for leaders with high expectations of bringing change to the society. In the 2023 polls, it is going to be very different as people are keen to change the NPP leadership,” Marak said.
Marak was arrested from Hapur in Uttar Pradesh four days after the Meghalaya police raided his farmhouse close to midnight on July 22 and arrested a large number of people including women.
Claiming to be innocent in the case, the BJP leader said that as a “vendetta politics”, multiple cases were filed against him in order to ensure the Chief Minister’s easy win in the 2023 Assembly polls.
The Meghalaya BJP has been vocal about corruption in the autonomous district councils, the Meghalaya Energy Corporation Limited, the Saubhagya scheme and illegal mining of coal and its transportation.