| Congress supporters congratulate Meghalaya chief minister Mukul Sangma after his win from Ampati constituency in West Garo Hills on Thursday. Picture by UB Photos |
Shillong, Feb. 28: History had the last laugh in Meghalaya today.
While no party got a clear majority for the ninth Legislative Assembly, the Congress ended two seats short of a simple majority. However, it became too obvious that Purno Agitok Sangma’s magic had failed to work in his Garo hills bastion.
The counting of votes across the 60 Assembly constituencies took off from 8 this morning and as the trends started trickling in, it soon became clear the Congress was leading the way.
While the Congress managed to win 29 seats, four more than its 2008 tally, other political parties including P.A. Sangma’s National People’s Party (NPP), were severely battered.
Chief minister Mukul M. Sangma led the way for the Congress by securing 15,031 votes against his nearest rival Clement Momin of the NPP, who managed to bag a mere 5,935 votes from Ampati in South West Garo Hills.
The Congress bagged 16 out of 36 seats in Khasi-Jaintia hills and 13 out of 24 seats in Garo hills.
In spite of the hype which surrounded the tribal-centric party NPP, it managed to win only two seats in Garo hills while its leading figure, Conrad K. Sangma, was defeated by a margin of 2,107 votes in Selsella constituency by Clement Marak of the Congress.
Purno had rejuvenated the NPP, a Manipur-based party, after he lost to Pranab Mukherjee in the race for the Rashtrapati Bhavan. But from the results, it was clear the people of Garo hills did not go by and with the book — the NPP symbol.
The party put up 32 candidates in the polls.
A shocked Conrad told The Telegraph he was still trying to come to terms with the loss. “It is very shocking. I am still trying to understand the reasons. Most of the Congress candidates were actually nowhere near us but the results showed otherwise,” a dejected Conrad said over phone.
Conrad, who was on his way to Garo hills along with his father Purno, said the NPP would be taking stock of the outcome in a meeting with its candidates.
The party managed to win only in Songsak and Dadenggre, with Nihim D. Shira victorious from Songsak and Conrad’s elder brother James from Dadenggre.
With just a year left for the parliamentary elections, the writing on the wall is clear — Purno has to work hard to regain control over his fiefdom — else he would be wiped out by the Congress hand.
While the mood in the NPP camp was sober, there was a sense of jubilation in the Congress.
“We were expecting more seats, at least an absolute majority. But it did not turn out that way. However, we did well in the Garo hills,” Dikkanchi D. Shira, wife of chief minister Mukul M. Sangma, said.
Dikkanchi will make her maiden entry into the Assembly after she won by a margin of 6,859 votes from Mahendraganj constituency in South West Garo Hills.
It is also for the first time in Meghalaya’s history that four women legislators would be elected to the Assembly. Roshan Warjri, Deborah C. Marak, M. Ampareen Lyngdoh and Dikkanchi D. Shira — all Congress candidates — have been elected from their respective constituencies.
The United Democratic Party, which contested in 50 constituencies, managed to win only eight seats — three down from its 2008 count. It also lost some of its prominent faces including outgoing deputy chief minister Bindo M. Lanong and social welfare minister John Antonius Lyngdoh.
The oldest regional political party in the state — Hill State People’s Democratic Party (HSPDP) — improved its 2008 tally from two to four.
The Nationalist Congress Party won in two constituencies while the Garo National Council (GNC) and the North East Socialist Democratic Party won a seat each.
Independents won in 13 constituencies, mostly in Jaintia hills and Garo hills. In 2008, only five Independent candidates had secured wins.
Among the prominent winners are former chief minister Salseng C. Marak who made a dramatic comeback from Resubelpara constituency in North Garo Hills. Marak, who led the government from 1993-1998, had lost in the 2003 and 2008 polls.