The formal withdrawal of support to the Conrad Sangma government in Meghalaya by the two-MLA strong BJP is yet to be announced. But hard politics have commenced on ground.
Gloves are virtually out among allies. A few sitting NPP MLAs now are set to join the saffron party.
But is there internal sabotage? Phulbari MLA and NPP leader S.G. Esmatur Mominin has denied 'speculation' that he could join the saffron outfit.
However, Mominin said though he is still a NPP leader but if denied a party ticket he would consult his workers and take a final decision.
Some BJP leaders have complained the matter to high command stating that state unit president Ernest Mawrie, who is also an advisor to the Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma, may be behind the in-house sabotage.
The differences between Mawrie and BJP's in-charge (Prabhari) M Chuba Ao have come out in the media earlier as well.
The BJP is doing a lot of groundwork in Meghalaya where the party could win only two seats in 2018.
In some Assembly segments, the BJP leaders have started burning midnight oil trying to enlist the support from the erstwhile Congress vote-share and some from the kitties of Independent candidates of 2018.
"In many constituencies even managing to get 50-60 per cent of Congress vote share and votes polled by Independents can do magic for the BJP... The 2023 polls in Christian-stronghold Meghalaya is crucial for the party's battle in states such as Telangana and Chhattisgarh and also the 2024 battle which will be Modi's hat-trick polls," the source said.
A key Assam leader and a party office bearer has been engaged recently to help the trio M Chuba Ao (national vice president and in-charge Meghalaya) and two other leaders Sambit Patra and Rituraj Sinha.
Chuba is a senior BJP leader from Nagaland and thus his Christian background is also working as an advantage, they claim.
These leaders have already started traveling rural areas mostly separately. The Assam-based leader was assigned by BJP general secretary (Organisation) B.L. Santhosh to submit a detailed report "in confidence".
Details of that report are not yet known but the saffron party strategists are working overtime to make a difference in the ensuing elections in Meghalaya early next year.
Sources say the BJP is eyeing "Congress share of votes as the grand old party has lost ground and credibility".
Among the four MLAs who were likely to shift allegiance one is from East Khasi Hills.
Himalaya Shangpliang is now a Trinamool MLA and represents Mawsynram. Three others are Ferlin C. Sangma (Selsela), S.G. Esmatur Mominin (Phulbari) and Benedict Sangma (Raksamgre).
Mominin's new observation has complicated things somewhat but the saffron party will continue with its works.
That NPP MLAS belong to Chief Minister Conrad Sangma's Garo tribe in West Garo Hills are willing to jump ship has made things interesting.
Phulbari is Muslim dominated but the BJP has sound base here. In 2018, no less than Prime Minister Narendra Modi also campaigned and at the polls, the saffron party nominee Binoy Kumar Ghosh polled 18.38 per cent votes.
Ghosh finished fourth in the race polling 4,570 votes while NPP nominee Mominin had polled 7,716 votes. In contrast, the Congress candidate Abu Taher Mondal was runner up having bagged 6,582 votes while an Independent candidate Mark G. Marak had polled 5,527 votes.
Shangpliang's move to quit Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool is a significant 'achievement' for the BJP poll strategists as they could make penetration in local stalwart and former Chief Minister Mukul Sangma's forte.
"We are eyeing more such leaders and the feedback is positive," a key source claimed.
Sources say in various constituencies and well known NPP-bastions, the feedback for the BJP has been positive. People have developed anti-incumbency mood against Conrad's party and many say in the absence of Congress prospects, the voters would be automatically drawn towards Prime Minister Modi's party.
The BJP's developmental agenda is a special attraction for the voters in many underdeveloped areas. They cite instances like Raksamgre where BJP polled 11 per cent votes in 2018.
The Congress share was 35 per cent and an Independent candidate had walked away with 12 per cent share.
So, the BJP's own vote-share plus Independent share along with about 50 per cent of Congress vote share would be substantial gains for the saffron party to make a difference.
Similar statistical calculations are pouring in from several other Garo belt constituencies.
The BJP poll strategists led by BJP national vice president M Chuba Ao have already three categories of Assembly seats.
In Category A comes about 12-15 seats, which the country's ruling party thinks it can win.
Amid strained relationship between BJP and NPP, Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju recently said :"They (NPP-led regime with BJP as a partner) are doing a good job. But I wish BJP has more role in the government because more roles of BJP will bring more development and more benefits for the people of Meghalaya."
The words are well measured but have much political significance.