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Test of kinship in poll-bound hill state

- Dynastic politics shines bright; Assam grapples with law & order ahead of panchayat poll

Shillong, Jan. 22: In India’s electoral politics, charity begins and ends at home.

This is evident from glancing at some of the names that have emerged for the 2013 Meghalaya Assembly poll battle. The writing on the wall is clear: The domination of families in Meghalaya politics is no longer inconspicuous.

It is not only the Gandhis, Yadavs, Abdullahs or Mukherjees who have roped in their wives, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, daughters-in-law, sons-in-law, nephews, and nieces into the realm of electoral politics.

Meghalaya, too, is going full steam in acquiring prominence for political families to rule the roost. The February 2013 battle for the ballot is writ large with such kinship.

The brothers who will feature in the electoral battle include chief minister Mukul M. Sangma from Ampati constituency in South West Garo Hills district and his younger brother and former legislator Zenith M. Sangma from Rangsakona constituency in the same district. The duo have been given Congress tickets. The other two Sangma brothers — James and Conrad — will be seeking re-election from Dadenggre and Selsella respectively, representing the newly formed NPP.

Contractor Ngaitlang Dhar will fight from Umroi constituency in Ri Bhoi district as a Congress nominee while his younger brother and legislator Sniawbhalang Dhar will seek re-election from Nartiang constituency in West Jaintia Hills from the Congress. But there are instances where the brothers will compete from different political parties.

Mawlai legislator Founder Strong Cajee will seek re-election as a Congress nominee while his younger brother Sounder Strong Cajee will contest as an Independent from South Shillong constituency.

Independent legislator Limison D. Sangma will contest as a Congress nominee from Raksamgre constituency in West Garo Hills while his brother Jimmy D. Sangma will make his political debut from Tikrikilla constituency, also under West Garo Hills. Limison had won from Tikrikilla in the 2008 polls. Besides, the brothers, there are two husband-wife duo competing in the polls.

Dikkanchi D. Shira, wife of chief minister Mukul Sangma, will make her electoral debut from Mahendraganj constituency under South West Garo Hills district as a Congress nominee.

Independent Donkupar Massar will seek re-election from the newly delimited Pynursla constituency while his wife and sitting member of the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC), Grace Mary Kharpuri, will seek an entry into the Assembly from Shella constituency as an Independent candidate.

Then, there are quite a few candidates who are not immediate family members, but share some kind of kinship.

As electioneering picks up and voters prepare to exercise their right, speculation on how many of those who share kinship will enter the ninth Meghalaya Assembly will be rife till the results are declared on February 28.