|Presidential candidate P.A. Sangma in New Delhi on Sunday. (PTI)
Shillong, July 22: The “invincible” has finally been “conquered”.
What Meghalaya chief minister Mukul M. Sangma could not achieve on two different occasions, President-elect Pranab Mukherjee could accomplish in a single stroke.
Mukherjee, 76, finally made Purno Agitok Sangma, 64, taste defeat in any election.
Prior to July 22, Sangma had been elected to the Lok Sabha on nine occasions and twice to the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly — a record of only wins — in a glittering and eventful political career spanning nearly four decades.“I have never lost any election in the past. In fact, every time I contested, my margins have increased with the blessings of almighty god and the people,” Sangma had stated in an interview during the presidential campaign.
Yes, that was, indeed, in the past — from 1977 to 2008. But today, the Bengali babu managed to modify Sangma’s CV, and wrecking the status quo — 11 wins and one loss.
Perhaps the status quo would have never been wrecked had any of these come true — Sangma’s hopes of “miracles”, emulating President V.V. Giri, who got elected in 1969 defeating the government-sponsored candidate Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy, and J. Jayalalithaa’s blessings being stronger than Sonia Gandhi’s.
But the “miracles” did not even happen in his home state, Meghalaya, as Sangma managed to garner only 23 votes valued at 391 while Mukherjee got 34 votes valued at 578.
After the votes were counted today in New Delhi, the 2012 route to Raisina Hill has been determined from Mirati in West Bengal instead of Chapathi in West Garo Hills of Meghalaya. Certainly, only a “miracle” would have altered the route. That did not happen, though.
Moreover, the election to choose the 13th President provided a perfect opportunity for Mukherjee to turn Bengal’s “historic blunder” into a “historic feat”. Jyoti Basu could not make it to 7 Race Course in 1996.
But now, the famous 340-room Rashtrapati Bhavan waits to house the President-elect from Bengal.
On charting his next political voyage, yesterday, Sangma’s younger son Conrad had told The Telegraph that from now on his father would play a larger role at the Centre after indicating that the former Lok Sabha Speaker would never return to state politics.
In fact, the senior Sangma has never been too successful in Meghalaya politics, which had even provoked Mukul M. Sangma to say that the former Lok Sabha MP had been a “failure” in the state’s political affairs.
While celebrations saturated Mukherjee’s residences at New Delhi and Bengal, life in Sangma’s hometown in Tura, West Garo Hills was “normal”.
The former Lok Sabha Speaker had kicked off his presidential campaign from his Dakopgre residence in Tura town on July 1 with a prayer meeting.
“Life is normal here, and people are moving on with their lives,” a Tura resident told this correspondent amid the nation being glued to the television to know who would become the new First Citizen.
And that’s perhaps what the senior Sangma could learn from his own people as he comes to terms with the moment of truth. Move on, tomorrow is another day.
Conceding defeat, Sangma congratulated Mukherjee and said it was an honour to have been “projected as a presidential candidate in our vast democracy”.
However, the admission did not come without adding a tinge of storm as he criticised the recently concluded presidential election.
“The President of our country is believed to be above parties and politics. But the process of election of the President is not. The process in the current year’s presidential election has been exceptionally partisan and political,” Sangma said in a statement from New Delhi.
He also said the public perception is certainly that in the identification and projection of its candidate, the UPA did not genuinely build consensus.
“It persuaded disparate political parties commanding major sections of the presidential Electoral College by economic and other packages as well as inducements, threats and promises. The spirit behind secrecy of balloting was also thrown to the winds. There is compelling need for establishing an Election Code of Conduct for the election of the President,” the former Lok Sabha Speaker said.
At the same time, Sangma said the country had lost a golden opportunity to demonstrate solidarity with the tribals.
“I might have lost this election. But the nation as a whole has also lost a golden opportunity to demonstrate its solidarity with the tribals by elevating one of them to the highest constitutional office in the country. In any case, I do feel that I have won the hearts and minds of substantial sections of the masses of our country represented by those who voted for me,” Sangma said.
UDP statement: Congratulating Mukherjee, United Democratic Party (UDP) president Donkupar Roy said, “We congratulate the new President-elect, but at the same time, we would like to congratulate Sangma as he had been able to achieve his objective of projecting a tribal in the election.”
The UDP, a coalition partner in the Meghalaya United Alliance (MUA) government, had supported Sangma in the polls.
Whether Sangma should return to state politics, Roy said, “I have no comments on that. I would advise him to play a larger role at the national scene.”