Shillong, Sept. 27: Meghalaya’s first citizen today wondered how arrested Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) chairman Champion R. Sangma can contest in the ensuing Assembly polls with criminal cases piling up against the former cop.
“Technically, you are not debarred from contesting elections unless you are convicted. However, in his case it is different. There are several criminal cases against him, and he is in jail now,” Governor Ranjit Shekhar Mooshahary told reporters on the sidelines of a seminar here.
Mooshahary, also a former IPS officer, was urged to share his thoughts on Champion’s move to contest in the 2013 Assembly polls.
“As far as Champion’s joining politics is concerned, whether he joins a party, is not important. However, what is important is whether he would be able to join politics with all the cases pending against him. Till the court decides on his innocence, he cannot claim to be innocent. The court has to decide,” Mooshahary said.
When asked whether criminals could contest elections, the governor said, “Unless convicted, you can contest the elections. But in his case, he is in prison and not even been bailed. How is it possible for him to contest the elections?”
Mooshahary distanced himself from the controversy surrounding the delay on the part of the state government to book Champion under the provisions of the Meghalaya Preventive Detention Act.
“I have not applied my mind because this is not really a governor’s responsibility. It is the work of the law enforcing and investigating agencies. I am sure they must have done the right thing,” he said.
Yesterday, the United Democratic Party, an ally of the Congress in the Meghalaya United Alliance government, was also not sure about the delay in bringing Champion under the act.
The party had also said a section of the GNLA and a segment of the Congress was in complicity.
Champion had announced his intention to participate in next year’s elections, and had also declared that his outfit would be supporting the ruling Congress. The statement had caused uproar among political parties in the state.
Drawing his attention to militancy in the state, the governor said there was scope for further improvement.
“Garo hills is still volatile and we need to do more to contain militancy,” Mooshahary said.