Mukul Sangma is going to complete six years as chief minister of Meghalaya in April 2016. He has taken up a lot of development initiatives since. On the Meghalaya Day on January 21, he made a significant statement that the state will be free from poverty in another 10-15 years. The estimate might be realistic, but it lacks substance and clarity. 10-15 years can be anybody’s guess. In 2031, hardly anyone is going to remember what Sangma had predicted 15 years ago! Surely, he would not be blamed for this statement if Meghalaya remained poor till then.

Fifteen years is a long time in politics. Verification of the statement can be done only when Mukul continued to be chief minister for at least next three terms. He is already in his second term. He had ousted Congress veteran DD Lapang from the chair in 2010 after dissident group in the party won the battle for change of leadership. He was the natural choice for the helm of affairs after he steered the Congress party to one of the biggest victories in the state’s electoral history in 2013. However, given the nature of Meghalaya’s politics, remaining chief minister till next election in 2018 will itself be an achievement for Mukul. Only one chief minister, SC Marak, has achieved the task so far since 1972 when Meghalaya attained statehood from Assam.

If Mukul failed to become chief minister once again after 2018 polls, he would wash his hands off his statehood day statement for which he grabbed headlines. Even if the Congress party retains power, he would conveniently give the excuse of not having total control to pursue his poverty-free dream. All in all, the chief minister made the statement without being backed by research. It was either a guesswork or he wanted to convey a positive message to the public! It is nothing but irresponsible. Of course, much cannot be expected by our politicians. They say, you get what you deserve. After all, Mukul is a product of the society itself. A general sincerity must develop among us. Responsible leaders must think before saying anything in public. Your pleasing words are of no good. Say what changes you have brought during your tenure. Leave the guesswork – what will happen after 15 years – to the public.

(Published as editorial in The Meghalaya Guardian on January 23, 2016)

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