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Diplomatic talks take a backseat during politics. There is no place for making guarded comments when the D-day is knocking at the door. Taking sides, preferably on communal lines, is still the best way to win voters’ mind in India. Used to making comments such as “party will decide”, “it depends on high command”, “we will discuss and let you know”, “that is his personal view”, “we are making efforts, it will take time” etc., political leaders nowadays are with ready solutions, if elected. Going by the former Lok Sabha Speaker Purno Sangma’s radical speech these days, common people might believe that a separate state for Garos in Meghalaya is not so far away. If elected, he is “ready” to fight for Garoland, the main demand of the state’s most dreaded militant outfit, the Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA). He can afford to take such a radical stand because his nascent National People’s Party (NPP) is not in power anywhere.

The Garo Hills veteran, contesting for his ninth term from Tura Lok Sabha seat, is also seeking votes in the name of BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA). He says his election this time is more important because NPP is an ally of NDA, which will “definitely” form the next government at the Centre. He might have resorted to these twin planks – NDA and Garoland – because development and security issues are cliché. Besides, some blame for plight of the region also goes to his daughter Agatha Sangma, who is the sitting MP from the seat, which he vacated to join state politics in 2008.

With only two candidates in fray, people of Garo Hills will have to choose between the political acumen of Purno Sangma and promises of youth power made by Congress greenhorn Daryl Momin. Daryl, with a strong political lineage being the grandson of state’s first chief minister Capt Williamson Sangma, has not made many promises by himself. Chief minister Mukul Sangma has been doing all the sayings on his behalf. Both Mukul and Purno, seen as arch rivals despite their huge generation gap, have been making personal attacks on each other. While the younger Sangma went to the extent of terming Purno’s bid for election a “dying man’s wish”, the latter revived his old allegation that Mukul is the “chairman” of all militant groups. Neither Purno Sangma so far could explain why Garoland is the best solution nor Mukul Sangma gave the best answer why Garo Hills needs to stop electing the veteran leader again and again.

(Published as editorial in The Meghalaya Guardian on March 29)