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SP enters poll battle
- Four Trinamul legislators join Mulayam-led party

Shillong, Jan. 19: Mulayam Singh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party will battle it out in the Meghalaya electoral scenario, as it attempts to attract sitting legislators and former policy makers into its fold.

Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamul Congress is in a dilemma even before the battle for the ballot picks up. At least four of its members today decided to join the Yadav-led party. The most prominent candidate on the Samajwadi Party list is sitting Dadenggre legislator Augustine D. Marak, who had earlier served as the food and civil supplies minister in the Mukul Sangma cabinet.

Marakwill contest the February 23 polls on a Samajwadi Party ticket from Raksamgre constituency in West Garo Hills. The other prominent Samajwadi contestant is former state PWD minister Brening A. Sangma, and a three-time Congress legislator, who will seek re-entry into the Assembly from Dalu constituency under West Garo Hills.

Former Congress legislator Manirul Islam Sarkar will contest from Phulbari constituency in the plains belt of West Garo Hills while former BJP legislator Nidhuram Hajong will contest from Mahendraganj under South West Garo Hills.

Speaking to this correspondent from New Delhi, Marak said the former legislators decided to contest from a political party rather than as Independent candidates. “We decided that we should fight the elections together under one party instead of fighting as Independents,” Marak, who met Yadav in Lucknow yesterday, said.

On why they chose the Samajwadi Party instead of regional parties, he said it was one of the largest political parties in the country after the Congress and BJP. He added that within the next few days, the party would announce more candidates. “We are planning to set up candidates in each of the 11 districts even if not in all the 60 Assembly seats,” he added.

“We have resigned from the Trinamul Congress as Mamata Banerjee appears to be uninterested in the electoral affairs in Meghalaya,” Sermina D. Marak, joint secretary of TMC, Meghalaya unit, said.

Marak, who is likely to contest from Rambrai-Jyrngam constituency in West Khasi Hills, said the other TMC members who have quit include Tilok Dasgupta, Wanshuwa Nongtdu and Abraham Sangma.