Meghalaya’s first woman MP vows to work for people

May 31st, 2008 - 11:22 am ICT by admin  

By Syed Zarir Hussain
Tura (Meghalaya), May 31 (IANS) Meghalaya’s first female MP Agatha Sangma says she will work for the empowerment of women and youth and describes her election to the Lok Sabha as a “good first step” to encourage the fairer sex from the hill state to enter active politics. “Society in Meghalaya may be matrilineal but men are still at the forefront of decision-making. That holds good in the field of politics too. But my election as an MP is a good first step for women here to join active politics,” Agatha told IANS in an interview.

Daughter of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader and former Lok Sabha speaker P.A. Sangma, Agatha, 27, has become the youngest member in the current Lok Sabha, having won the Tura seat vacated by her father who was elected to the state assembly two months ago. She defeated her Congress rival by a margin of nearly 100,000 votes last week.

Agatha’s election has drawn much attention not just because of her lineage - Sangma held the Tura seat for close to 30 years - but also because it took more than 35 years for Meghalaya to have its first woman MP.

Her victory has brought four members of Sangma’s family into politics in recent weeks. Sangma and his sons Conrad and James got elected to the state assembly on NCP tickets in March.

Conrad Sangma is now the finance minister in Meghalaya while Sangma senior is the chairman of the coveted State Planning Board. James Sangma is a parliamentary secretary with the status of a minister of state.

“I am my father’s daughter but I have won on merit and been greatly humbled by my victory. But I reject all talk of my father encouraging dynastic politics because Article 84 of the constitution entitles any eligible citizen to run for parliament,” said Agatha, who as a practicing lawyer until recently.

She already has plans laid out for the coming months.

“Practically, I have just about eight months before the country goes to polls. I plan to start by touring every nook and cranny of my constituency and know the aspirations of people and complete programmes initiated by my father,” Agatha said.

She intends to focus on harnessing renewable sources of energy like wind and solar energy and rainwater harvesting. This is not surprising considering the fact that Agatha holds a post-graduate degree in environmental management from the Nottingham University in Britain.

“We are very happy at Agatha’s election. Society in my state is matrilineal and women are greatly empowered, but some sections now say men in the state need to be empowered,” Meghalaya Chief Minister Donkupar Roy told IANS in a lighter vein.

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