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Ticketless Congmen to contest

Shillong, Jan. 7: Shell-shocked Congress legislators who have been denied party tickets for the Assembly polls are likely to throw their hat into the electoral battlefield.

Apart from the abandoned sitting legislators, reports indicate that several Congress aspirants from other constituencies, who were shunted out, will give restless nights to the party by contesting either as Independent candidates or as nominees from other political parties.

Since this could impair the prospects of the ruling party, the Congress leadership will make attempts to reach out to the ticket losers and convince them to support the official candidates.

Yesterday, the list of 60 candidates who have been selected to contest in the Assembly elections was announced and at least five sitting legislators have been left out of the loop.

Instead, five legislators hailing from other political groups have been rewarded with tickets.

“I was shocked when militants planted explosives. It came as a shock when they lobbed a grenade into my house, and now it is another shock when the party has denied me a ticket,” a dejected community and rural development minister Saleng A. Sangma said today.

In a surprise move, the Congress leadership opted for Besterfield N. Sangma as its nominee from Gambegre constituency instead of the young cabinet minister.

Saleng claimed he had the edge during the polls conducted at the block-level. “I am still the winning candidate from Gambegre; I don’t know the reason why I lost the ticket,” he said while adding that till last evening he was confident of being given the party ticket.

On his future course of action and whether he will contest the polls, the minister said he would first meet his constituents to seek their opinion. “After meeting my people, I will judge through my conscience,” he said.

Umroi legislator Stanly Wiss Rymbai, however, categorically stated that he would contest the polls. The Congress selected a business tycoon of Jaintia hills, Ngaitlang Dhar, as its nominee from Umroi.

“Tomorrow, I have organised a meeting with my supporters where we will decide whether I should fight as an Independent candidate or a nominee of any other political party,” Rymbai said.

Two-time legislator Samuel Sangma, who was overlooked from Baghmara constituency, has decided to contest the polls as an Independent candidate.

The party had selected Lazarus M. Sangma instead of Samuel, who hitherto represents Dalu constituency.

“I don’t understand what the Congress is doing, but I am going ahead to contest the elections from Baghmara, as my supporters have asked me not to surrender,” Samuel said.

The other two legislators who have been denied tickets are Abdus Saleh from Rajabala constituency and Nehlang Lyngdoh from Khliehriat constituency.

Saleh lost the race to another sitting Congress legislator, Sayeedullah Nongrum, while the party has selected Amos Dkhar as its candidate from Khliehriat.

Legislator Ismail R. Marak, who is also a Congress associate member, was denied the ticket from Dadenggre constituency.

In his place, the party preferred Garo Hills Autonomous District Council chief Purno K. Sangma.

Winnability factor: Meghalaya PCC chief D.D. Lapang said the candidates were chosen on the basis of the “winnability factor”.

“The party wants to gain more seats in Meghalaya and, therefore, tickets have been issued to candidates who have a better chance of winning,” he said, in a clear indication that the five legislators who have been dumped are certain of not making a return to the state Assembly.

“The AICC had examined and decided on the candidates, and we don’t argue as we are disciplined people,” Lapang said while stating that yesterday’s list was final and ruled out any further change.

He also appealed to all those aspirants who have been denied a ticket to stay in the party and work unitedly.

“We want them (those who were denied ticket) not to contest the polls. However, at the same time, we cannot stop them if they want to contest,” the former chief minister said.

To pacify the ticket losers, the PCC has called a meeting on Wednesday morning of all those aspirants who had applied for tickets. The same day, another meeting will also be held with the official candidates.