Conrad Sangma’s victory in the Tura parliamentary bye-election is not an upset for the Congress. The ruling party just failed the seat once again, to the Purno Sangma family. It was dynasty versus dynasty and the voters reposed their faith with the old horse (Purno family). The fact that personal credentials of Conrad Sangma are way ahead of Dikkanchi D Shira, the wife of chief minister Mukul Sangma, also cannot be ruled out. Besides being the youngest son of Purno, Conrad was the former finance minister and Leader of Opposition, albeit thanks to his father again. But Conrad had lived up to his father’s expectation. He did not do a Rahul Gandhi, neither a Gaurav Gogoi, the MP son of Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi. The voters preferred the ‘worthy’ son of Purno Sangma to a ‘silent’ MLA such as Dikkanchi. Except for a few inaugurations and foundation laying, Dikkanchi was not heard speaking any important public forum. She even remained entirely silent in the assembly in their two-year stint as an MLA. There are few reasons for the voters to get connected to her. After all, all of them do not vote just because she is the better of half of a chief minister of consecutive six years, considered a huge achievement in a state like Meghalaya mired with political instability in the past.
The victory margin of the NPP would not have been so huge, 1,92,212, without the Congress’ negative campaign against the BJP. Congress banners flaunting pictures of Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Mukul Sangma and Dikkanchi read “Do not vote for BJP”. The party did not field any candidate in Tura and just supported the NPP candidate. The Congress fear was palpable, from the beginning.
Apart from the Congress apprehension, the writing about the verdict on May 19 for Tura was already on the wall! The NPP created the base for this victory a few months ago when the party won the election to Garo Hills Autonomous District Council (GHADC). Of course, the sympathy votes cast in favour of the Purno’s son cannot be ignored too. Dikkanchi was proved entirely wrong in her statement that ‘Purno is a lost chapter for Garo Hills’. The voters might also have considered that fact that Conrad, who is closer to the Centre, might bring in more sops for the region than Dikkanchi would have been able to. Or they too might be dreaming of a ‘Congress-Mukt Bharat’, like the BJP!
(Published as editorial in The Meghalaya Guardian on May 20, 2016)