Recently while I was going through multiple videos on YouTube, the GHADC campaign videos dominated my feed as if the algorithm in the platform knew the interest that the Garo District Council (GDC) election had entailed and engrossed the people of Garo Hills.
From the high-profile campaign of the National People’s Party (NPP) who is a current ruling party in the State government and the incumbent party seeking another term to run the Executive Committee (EC) in GHADC to the low profile campaign by the Congress party, Garo Hills caught the attention of many people in the Northeast for the first time for a council election. One would agree that even the more influential councils in Meghalaya like the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC) and Jaintia Hills Autonomous District Council (JHADC) had never seen or taste the kind of high energy and high intensity campaign that the people of Garo Hills experienced in the last two months.
The BJP through its aggressive money and muscle power was able to create headlines and get traction, however, most Garos would agree that the BJP will never be their choice simply because of its anti-Christian ideology and the way the party wants to regulate people; be it in our kitchens where it wants to interfere with what we eat or to what we dress. The BJP is best defined as a Hindi heartland party with an objective to create a Hindutva land and identify which the people of Meghalaya will always reject.
However, another interesting entrant to the council election is the United Democratic Party (UDP) where most Garos felt that in a GHADC election it was campaigning either in Shillong or West Khasi Hills. The star campaigners of the UDP were all Khasis from Shillong and not a single Garo was a part of their star campaigner list. If we go by the words of their President where he said the formation of UDP started from Garo Hills, then it is an utter disappointment that today not even one Garo leader is a part of the central executive body of the party and a bunch of Khasi legislators want to rule and dictate terms to GHADC. Their sheer bravado coupled with inept behaviour towards the people of Garo Hills and their own candidates left them losing all the seats that the party had contested for.
Over the years when I was in Shillong, I had the opportunity to interact with many Khasi intellectuals who looked up to the UDP as a party fighting for the rights and cause of the Khasi and Jaintia people against outsiders including the Garos. The party ideology and principles are about fighting for the greater Khasi land where Garo sentiments and feelings have no value let alone representing us. It is also important to note, that UDP has never been able to form a government on its own numbers and its performance is what can be described as fly by night operators. The famous expression from Texas is what UDP can be best described as a party – ‘All Hat and No Cattle’.
For most Garos living in the Khasi and Jaintia Hills, they do feel as second-class citizens in their own State since the Khasis and Jaintias dominate every sphere whether business, administration, politics etc. As a Garo, I would not be wrong to say that we feel like second generation Indians in America where white supremacist Americans treat people of Indian origin as useless and of no value. With all of this, UDP is definitely a party for and by the Khasi and sadly, Garo has no place in it.
By | Christina Marak
Shillong – 793019, Meghalaya