TURA, May 15 - The battle to determine the successor to the late Purno A Sangma will be fought here tomorrow with the entire Garo Hills all set for the Tura Lok Sabha by-election.
The battle for the Tura seat has been a heated one with accusations and counter-accusations coming through thick and fast during almost three weeks of campaigning.
Voting will begin tomorrow at 7 am and continue till 4 pm, with a high voter turnout expected to decide between Purno Sangma�s youngest son Conrad K Sangma, who represents the National People�s Party (NPP), and Congress candidate Dikkanchi D Shira, wife of Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma and sitting legislator from Mahendraganj.
In 2012, Purno Sangma had floated the NPP to champion the cause of the tribals. The onus now rests on Conrad�s shoulder, the present national president of the party. The by-election is a litmus test for NPP and will definitely provide a huge fillip to it for the Assembly elections in 2018. Currently, the NPP has two MLAs in the 60-member House.
Conrad will bank on his father�s illustrious career in a seat where Purno Sangma never lost an election. Purno Sangma had represented the Tura Lok Sabha seat since 1977 for 10 consecutive terms.
Campaigning has been hectic for both the candidates, who have paid even double visits at times to the voters seeking their mandate.
The battle is a straight fight between legacy and political supremacy.
The Congress party, which has 22 MLAs from Garo Hills, is banking on the State Government�s development agenda, while NPP is expecting to cash in on the life-long work of the �king of Garos� � as the late Sangma is fondly described by the people.
In the past, Congress party had fielded Mukul Sangma, Deborah Marak, Zenith Sangma and Daryl William Momin, grandson of the first Chief Minister of Meghalaya, Captain Williamson A Sangma, without success against Purno Sangma and his family. The Congress is desperately looking to break the jinx this time round.
After Purno Sangma left the Congress in 1999 on the issue of Sonia Gandhi�s foreign origin, Mukul Sangma has been an arch-rival of Purno Sangma.
The by-election is being keenly watched, as it is going to be a close contest between Purno Sangma�s legacy and Mukul Sangma�s political stewardship.
Since 2008-09, Conrad K Sangma had been Meghalaya�s Finance and Power Minister and between 2009-13, he had been the Opposition leader in the State.
Dikkanchi, sitting legislator and wife of the Chief Minister, is the daughter of former Meghalaya Speaker, the late Ira R Marak.
The BJP, along with UDP and GNC, has put their weight behind Conrad and will hope that their efforts bear fruit on the day of counting (May 19). NPP is an alliance partner of the BJP-led NDA.