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Congress had the largest gain of Purno Sangma’s lost ground in Garo Hills during last assembly elections. The Garo veteran’s nascent NPP is still an unknown name in many corners of the state. The party’s recent success in Rajasthan assembly elections might not have reached remote villages which matter most when it comes to votes. NPP’s worries can be gauged well by the fact that the party is yet to decide on sitting MP Agatha Sangma’s candidature for the Tura seat. Decision of the party to seek ‘people’s views’ on the Tura candidate might appear as a response to the growing clamour against dynasty rule, but it also reveals the party’s worry over Agatha’s chances this time. The people might remember that their views were not sought when the former Lok Sabha Speaker decided to make it an all-family affair by pushing his three children to the state assembly and parliament.

Fortune of the Sangma brigade, now known as NPP, had a u-turn since he decided to quit the NCP and run for the President in 2012. He was able to convince 11 of the 13 NCP legislators to fight the 2013 elections under the NPP banner, but that was not enough as only two including his son James managed to make it to the 60-member House. The blow dealt to the political ambition of the Sangma family in the last election was so deep that Congress this time is overconfident of finally wresting the Purno bastion. Congress’s enthusiasm is palpable in the number of ticket aspirants for the Tura seat.

Theoretically, people of Meghalaya should welcome NPP for its contention that it is a party for the welfare of the indigenous tribals of the country. But there seems to be a few factors coming in the way for NPP in getting closer to the people under the new brand. The party’s national tag is far from being acceptable unlike that of Congress, BJP and even NCP. And the fact that the party was born out of a personal ambition of Purno Sangma to become the country’s President would continue to give weapons to the rivals. Continuous silence of Conrad Sangma, the vocal leader of opposition in the last assembly, on public issues also might be another major factor for the party’s failure in gaining the lost ground. Under the circumstances, retaining the Tura seat would be a great achievement for the Sangma brigade.

(Published as editorial in The Meghalaya Guardian on January 18, 2014)

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