The otherwise jovial P.A. Sangma was not his usual self when Umanand Jaiswal caught up with him at his residence on Sunday morning. The president of the National People’s Party was fixated on the battle for Meghalaya, his mind preoccupied with one single thought: how to form the next government
Excerpts from the interview:
How important is this election to you?
Very important, because people are not being able to live in peace and there is corruption. Development is suffering. Congress is following a policy of confrontation. Ours will be one of engagement with all sections.
Policy of confrontation…?
I am talking about militancy. The Congress government talks about finishing the rebels. I remain opposed to the state government’s stand. We need to sincerely engage with them. We will adopt a meaningful and sincere approach to the state’s problems.
Will your defeat in the presidential election impact your and your party’s fortunes?
No. In fact, humiliation during the presidential election brought back NPP. Garo pride and tribal sentiment was hurt. Assembly poll results will reflect this.
Who are you talking about?
Congress. Not supporting me was okay but they launched a slander campaign, which hurt the sentiments of the Garos. Contesting as a tribal, and against a stalwart such as Pranab Mukherjee, was a matter of great pride for me and my people. NPP is highlighting this insult.
People are talking about the impact the creation of four new districts and delimitation will have on the polls.
Creation of new districts is a good thing because it takes the administration closer to the people. But care should also be taken for proper bifurcation. Delimitation is a factor but people know whom to vote for. But I want to add something interesting about the district bit. Whenever new districts are created, the person who engineers the bifurcation loses the next election. History is set to repeat itself.
Won’t your frequent change of parties and symbols affect your party’s prospects in the polls?
It doesn’t matter in Garo hills. They have faith in me. I have contested on various symbols and this time it is the book originally allotted to the NPP. In this age of Internet, education is a must hence the book.
Your displaying the Constitution with the Ashok Chakra on your cutouts has not gone down well with the Election Commission...
I am going to challenge them after the election. I am only conveying that I uphold the Constitution. What is wrong in that?
How does it feel to be a “non-playing” captain?
There is more responsibility, more involvement. There are bigger goals to achieve.