Spotlight on Sangma in Meghalaya polls

February 16th, 2008 - 11:36 am ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Sonia Gandhi
By Syed Zarir Hussain
Shillong, Feb 16 (IANS) One of the brightest political stars of Meghalaya is back in local politics after more than two decades, giving company to two of his sons who are also in the fray for the March 3 assembly elections. Former Lok Sabha Speaker Purno Agitok Sangma left state politics 22 years ago but made a mark nationally by getting elected to the Lok Sabha as many as nine times from his native Tura constituency. He was earlier Meghalaya’s chief minister on two occasions before being toppled by a political veteran.

“This is a major political decision at the fag end of my political career as I am already 60. I am back here to stay with my state, and the region is expecting a lot from me,” Sangma told IANS.

Sangma Thursday filed his nomination as a Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) candidate for the Tura assembly seat. Meghalaya will elect a 60-member assembly.

If Sangma senior is back with a mission to rule Meghalaya, his sons too have joined him in the race. Conrad and James, his two sons, have also filed their nominations as NCP candidates for the Selsella and Rongchugiri seats in West Garo Hills district of Meghalaya.

“I am not trying to encourage any dynastic rule. Both my sons are foreign educated and it is our duty to pay the state back. We need educated people in politics,” Sangma said.

Tura, dominated by the Garo tribe to which he belongs, has been Sangma’s bastion. It has elected him to parliament nine times since 1977 and once to the state assembly.

This will be Sangma’s eleventh poll battle from his home constituency that he has nurtured all these years.

Many here feel that Sangma spoiled his chances of getting into one of the country’s highest offices by quitting the Congress in 1999. He, Sharad Pawar and Tariq Anwar targeted Congress leader Sonia Gandhi over her foreign origin.

While Pawar managed to worm his way back to the Congress-led government in New Delhi, Sangma got sidelined.

Now, he has set his sights at the seat of power in capital Shillong.

“The Meghalaya Democratic Alliance government led by the Congress has proved a failure. The state needs an alternative to get along the road to rapid progress and development,” Sangma said.

It is to be seen if the Sangma magic works on polling day.

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