SHILLONG, March 24 - Former Lok Sabha Speaker Purno A Sangma passed away three years ago, but his daughter Agatha Sangma, the ruling NPP candidate for the Tura Lok Sabha seat, while campaigning for the seat, says she is hopeful that the people of the constituency have not forgotten the leader.
Agatha is pitted against Leader of Opposition in the Meghalaya Assembly and Congress leader Mukul Sangma in the Tura seat, election for which will be held on April 11.
On the campaign trails in the five Garo Hills district of Meghalaya which fall under the Tura seat, Agatha and her brothers � Chief Minister Conrad Sangma and Home Minister James Sangma � remind the voters the legacy of their father PA Sangma and how he devoted his life for the Garos. �I am here to serve the people. I am grateful for the opportunity given to me by the party, the NPP. I hope the people of Garo Hills will never forget my father for the contribution he has made for them,� Agatha told PTI.
PA Sangma had represented Tura constituency for over four decades as its MP. Agatha is seeking re-election to the Lok Sabha seat she had once represented in 2009 when her father returned to state politics.
Conrad Sangma won the by-election to the Tura seat in 2016 after PA Sangma died, but he resigned last year when he won the South Tura Assembly bypoll after he became the chief minister.
Conrad admitted that the NPP managed to wrestle the seat from the ruling Congress in 2014 and 2016 in Meghalaya. �We won the elections in our worst. People of Garo Hills believe in our leader PA Sangma. It is all the more important that we take his mission forward and try to achieve the development goal for the people,� Conrad told media persons on the sidelines of a rally in North Garo Hills recently.
Agatha, who filed her nomination for the Tura seat on Friday said �the focus has always been development. The mandate will reflect the faith the people have on the government. There are a lot of development issues that we will be working together with the NPP leading the government in the state and I as the MP.�
Tura seat is important for the ruling dispensation and the Opposition Congress knows this too well when it nominated Leader of Opposition Mukul Sangma to contest from Tura. Mukul is also former chief minister of Meghalaya.
�The party knows that Mukul Sangma is the best bet to represent the Garo people in Parliament. He is a seasoned politician and has proved his mettle in the state when he led the pro-people government for 10 years,� Meghalaya Congress president C Lyngdoh said.
He alleged that the present government under the leadership of Conrad Sangma has failed on many fronts and is only good in lip service.
The war of words between Conrad and Mukul has also escalated in the otherwise quiet Garo Hills region each accusing the other of incompetence to lead the people.
In his rallies across North Garo Hills district last week, Conrad slammed the former chief minister over the �missions� he introduced since assuming office in 2010. �He (Mukul) had introduced several missions in the state which led to financial burdens. He was least bothered to executive the mission properly, and the programs failed. Mukul has done all these without any research or papers based on mapping the skills of the farmers,� Conrad said.
Reacting to this, Mukul said, �Conrad will need plenty of homework to do before he can understand about Agar (aquilaria malaccensis) plantation in private land and its positive economic ramifications.�
The Leader of Opposition said it is with his initiative that a legal provision for harvesting agar plant for its commercial exploitation is now available. The former chief minister also slammed Agatha for her failure to raise the issues concerning the common man in the Garo Hills during her tenure as MP.
�What was Agatha doing as an elected MP of Tura not voicing for the voiceless people who voted for her? Is this why people of Garo Hills elected her to have a vacation in New Delhi? People need to see the facts and not believe in the promises and lies of Conrad and his siblings,� Mukul said. � PTI