| A jawan guards the strong room where the EVMs for the parliamentary elections have been kept at Polo ground in Shillong on Tuesday. Counting of votes will take place on Friday. Picture by UB Photos |
Shillong, May 13: The BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, who campaigned extensively in the Northeast, was briefed about issues concerning the region by former Lok Sabha Speaker and NPP president Purno Agitok Sangma last evening.
Sangma, 66, who contested the Lok Sabha polls from the Tura parliamentary constituency, was accompanied by his daughter and former Union minister Agatha K. Sangma during his 30-minute meeting with the Gujarat chief minister in Ahmedabad.
Sangma is the first political leader from the Northeast to have met Modi on the conclusion of the nine-phase Lok Sabha polls.
“It was a courtesy visit, but I also apprised him about the issues concerning the Northeast, like the population structure, insurgency, integration of the region with the rest of the country, development and creation of infrastructure,” Sangma told this correspondent over phone.
On the issue of integrating the Northeast with the mainland, the former Lok Sabha Speaker told Modi, “India does not know us, but we know India. Hence, it is not the fault of the people from the Northeast. Other parts of India should know more about us.”
Narendra Modi tweeted this frame of his meeting with
P. A. Sangma and Agatha
The stress on the importance of integration comes against the backdrop of racial profiling and attacks on people from the Northeast in metropolitan cities, especially New Delhi.
Although the NPP did not have a pre-poll pact with the BJP in the recent polls, Sangma had maintained in July last year that his party has an “understanding” with the BJP.
Sangma has also been a vocal supporter of Modi, and termed him “Prime Minister material”. According to the former Lok Sabha Speaker, Modi had received an “overwhelming response” in the Lok Sabha polls. For the first time, the country “was voting for a Prime Minister,” Sangma said.
“Never before has the country voted for a Prime Minister. But this year, the election’s focus was on the Prime Minister’s Office,” Sangma, who first entered the Lok Sabha in 1977, said.
Asked to compare the record turnout in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls with that of the turnout in the 1984 elections, he said, “The 1984 elections were different as it happened after the assassination of Indira Gandhi. It was basically an emotional election for the sacrifice made by her. But this year, the issue was about development.”
Sangma had contested the 1984 polls on a Congress ticket from Tura parliamentary constituency, which he won with an overwhelming margin.
Optimistic about the NDA securing a clear majority, the 2012 presidential hopeful, who was supported by the BJP and some of its partners, is likely to earn a Union cabinet berth if he emerges victorious on Friday.
However, he clarified that the issue of his getting into the Union cabinet was “never discussed” during the meeting with Modi.
Asked whether Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio, who also contested the Lok Sabha polls, and he were in the race for a cabinet berth in case the NDA is voted to power, the veteran politician said, “I do not know. As per norms, it is the prerogative of the Prime Minister to choose his team.”