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Signs of rift appear in Cong

- Leaders question Mukul’s role in party’s poll debacle

Shillong, May 20: Signs of a rift within the rank and file of the Congress in Meghalaya are now visible, following the outcome of the Lok Sabha polls.

A number of Congress legislators and party leaders have started questioning chief minister Mukul Sangma for the poll debacle in Garo hills.

They alleged that the chief minister had lobbied enough with the AICC to ensure a ticket for political novice, Daryl William Cheran Momin, who lost to former Lok Sabha speaker Purno A. Sangma from Tura. He is also said to have fought hard to block the AICC from allotting a ticket to sitting MP from Shillong Vincent H. Pala, who won the election.

“Though Pala did not get support from some Congress legislators, including the chief minister, the Congress managed to retain the Shillong seat through him. But the party suffered a defeat in Tura despite getting the goodwill of the chief minister besides solid support from all Congress legislators in Garo hills, including Independents,” one of the senior leaders in the Meghalaya PCC said.

Recalling the sequence of events before and after the AICC had allotted tickets to Momin and Pala, the Congress leader said the AICC had showed its inclination to Sangma’s brother and sports minister, Zenith Sangma as the “suitable” candidate from Tura and even included his name in the list.

“It seemed that Momin was not preferred by the AICC as the candidate from Tura knowing that he had a slim chance of winning. However, the name of Zenith was replaced by Momin a few weeks later with assurance from the chief minister that he would win the seat for the Congress,” the leader said.

Similarly, the leader alleged that the chief minister had worked hard to ensure that Pala should not be the Congress candidate from Shillong, but the AICC went ahead to declare the sitting MP as the candidate after analysing his winning prospects.

The Congress leader alleged that the chief minister had even sent some Independent legislators from Khasi Hills, who are supporting the Congress-led government, to Delhi who met some top AICC leaders and told them they would not support the candidature of Pala.

Meanwhile in another revelation, sources close to the Congress alleged that some Congress legislators, through an understanding with the chief minister, had conspired and gone against the instructions of the AICC including that of Congress vice-president, Rahul Gandhi.

“When Rahul came to Shillong on March 18 after campaigning for Momin in Garo Hills, he had asked all party legislators, leaders and workers to remain united and work hard to ensure the victory of the party candidate from Shillong. However after Rahul left Shillong for Delhi on March 19, some Congress legislators, the same day, had a gathering at the house of Congress legislator from Umroi where they adopted a resolution to work against the Congress candidate from Shillong,” sources disclosed.

The sources alleged Independent candidate from Shillong, P.B.M. Basaiawmoit was also present at the gathering of the Congress legislators.

“At the gathering, the legislators had a conversation with the chief minister and the phone was put on loudspeaker mode and facilitated Basaiawmoit to converse with the chief minister where he assured support to the Independent candidate and said that he should go ahead and not worry,” the sources alleged.

After news of such anti-party activities, especially of the two brothers (Congress legislators) from Umroi and Nartiang, reached the ears of the PCC, including party president, D.D. Lapang, action was taken by dissolving the block Congress committee under Umroi Assembly constituency, represented by Ngaitlang Dhar.

The infighting was such that the AICC general secretary, Luizinho Faleiro had to rush to Shillong on April 4 with a stern warning against the dissident legislators.

“The warning given by the AICC did not work as the anti-Pala group continued with their anti-party activities,” sources said, adding that a showcause was served to Ngaitlang’s brother Sniawbhalang Dhar representing Nartiang days before the polling.

“Now that Pala has won from Shillong and Momin lost from Tura, the AICC is the best refereeto decide and punish the ‘black sheep’ in the party who have not only spoiled but brought down the party’s image in the state,” sources added.


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