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Purno vows to bounce back in state

- NPP dreams of return
Purno Sangma

Shillong, Jan. 16: Former Lok Sabha Speaker Purno Agitok Sangma and his National People’s Party (NPP) will look to re-establish themselves in Meghalaya politics in the coming parliamentary elections.

The “tribal-centric” party had faced a severe beating in the Assembly polls held in February last year. It managed to win in only two constituencies in the Garo hills while chief minister Mukul Sangma and his Congress party won 29 seats.

The senior Sangma knows too well that if the Tura parliamentary seat, which is currently being held by his youngest daughter Agatha K. Sangma, goes to the Congress in the April-May 2014 battle of ballots, the NPP would suffer yet another bitter blow.

Although the party has not decided on the candidate who will contest from the Tura seat, it has asked all its district units in the Garo hills to seek an opinion from the party workers and the general public as to who should be the party’s nominee.

Purno Sangma has represented Tura in the Lok Sabha for at least nine times. However, times have changed, and the chief minister has emerged as a force to reckon with.

At a news conference here today, when the senior Sangma was asked as to how he would tackle the chief minister, who is firmly establishing himself as a leader in the Garo hills, he said, “You see, the most powerful thing in this world is the will of the people. It is the will of the people, which will fight against all forces as shown in Delhi.”

Conceding that the coming Lok Sabha elections are important to re-establish himself and his party, Purno Sangma said, “Keeping that in mind, we decided that we should ascertain the views of the people as to who should be the candidate from Tura.”

The Tura parliamentary seat comprises 24 Assembly segments. In the 2013 Assembly polls, the Congress had won in 13 constituencies.

Although his party has a mountain to climb to clinch the Tura seat, the NPP leader was optimistic about a nationwide political change.

“You know the Meghalaya culture and the Northeast culture, where everybody wants to be on the side of the Centre. But I will only say that in the 2014 elections, there will be a change in New Delhi, and automatically a change in the Northeast,” the former Lok Sabha Speaker said.

“Corruption in Meghalaya is unbelievable, shameful and shocking,” he said. The NPP supremo said his party was doing its own investigation into the “corruption” in the state.

“Let our investigation be completed. The report will be placed before the people of Meghalaya. The kind of corruption that is happening in Meghalaya is unbelievable, shameful and shocking,” Purno Sangma, who had earlier served as the state’s chief minister, said.

He also vowed that his party would not let the education scam die down while pointing out to a report that around Rs 470 crore is being illegally collected from various toll gates on a monthly basis in the Garo hills.