One of the most articulate legislators in the eighth Meghalaya Assembly, Conrad K. Sangma, 35, of the National People's Party, was able to usher in a kind of youthful dynamism into the state legislature.
Being the youngest son of Purno Agitok Sangma, his dynamism has helped Conrad gain endorsement even from people in the Khasi-Jaintia hills.
When P.A. Sangma was leading the NCP, the party was touted as a “Garo-centric and Garo-dominated” party with no appeal in the Khasi-Jaintia hills region.
But the entry of Conrad, an MBA from Wharton Business School, into the Assembly in 2008 has somewhat diluted the Garo-centric image of the party.
The younger Sangma has miles to go and massive ground to cover to make the NPP pan-Meghalaya, and a sturdy force to give the Congress a run for its money.
In the previous Meghalaya Progressive Alliance (MPA) government, Conrad was one of the most significant cabinet ministers holding important portfolios like finance and power. However, the government could not survive beyond 365 days, and President's rule was subsequently imposed.
As a leader of the Opposition from 2009 onwards, he has been able to articulate several issues afflicting the state. His arguments in the House with the experienced chief minister Mukul Sangma, which at times turned into serious verbal duels, were the highlights of the outgoing Assembly.
In the run-up to the February 23 polls, Conrad has been touring the state in his “caravan bus” to solicit support for his NPP nominees. It is unlikely that the party's prospects in the Khasi-Jaintia hills will be major as it is yet to gain a strong foothold in the eastern parts of the state.
But in the Garo hills region, it will surely have an impact with Conrad's father playing a dominant role.
However, the Congress, which is aiming for an absolute majority, will be the major hurdle although in some pockets of the Garo hills, the contest will be between the NPP and candidates of other parties and Independents.
If re-elected, and if NPP wins more seats and is able to form a coalition government, Conrad will play a major role in the new administration.
However, even if the NPP has to sit in the Opposition with Conrad as the leader, it is anticipated that the ninth Legislative Assembly will be an animated one.