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Thursday , January 17 , 2013
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Tough fight for Congress

- Dissidents in party heat up poll battle in Garo hills

Shillong, Jan. 16: The bugle of rebellion within the ruling Congress in Meghalaya has been sounded wide and clear, especially in the Garo hills region.

From Dalu to Gambegre in West Garo Hills, and from Bajengdoba and Kharkutta in North Garo Hills, the Congress, which is aiming for an absolute majority, could well be in for a tough fight from dissidents who have chosen to defy 10 Janpath’s stamp of approval on the list of candidates.

The Garo hills region has 24 Assembly constituencies in five districts.

Along with the rest of Meghalaya, the electorate from the western region will exercise their franchise on February 23.

Yesterday, Samuel M. Sangma, Congress legislator from Dalu, along with hundreds of his supporters, including members of the block Congress committee, tendered his resignation from the party.

Samuel had sought a Congress ticket from Baghmara constituency in South Garo Hills. But based on what the party termed as the “winnability” factor, the ticket was given to Lazarus M. Sangma.

“The Congress workers must be angry with the party and hence they have decided to part ways and support me,” Samuel told this correspondent over phone. He said he had a “winning” chance from Baghmara.

Congress workers in Bajengdoba in North Garo Hills yesterday decided to field Garo Hills Autonomous District Council (GHADC) deputy chief executive member Brigady N. Marak against the party nominee and sitting NCP legislator from Rangsakona, Adolf Lu Hitler R. Marak. In the past elections, well-known Congress leader and former minister Chamberlain B. Marak used to be the party’s nominee. He had even contested the 2008 polls.

Adolf Lu Hitler was given a ticket from Bajengdoba after the Congress nominated Zenith M. Sangma, brother of chief minister Mukul M. Sangma, from Rangsakona in South West Garo Hills.

Earlier, after the list of candidates was announced, office-bearers, party functionaries, workers and supporters under the Bajengdoba block Congress committee resigned en masse and dissolved the block committee.

Last week, members of the Kharkutta block Congress committee, North Garo Hills, also resigned after the party denied a ticket to Rupert Momin.

The Congress had instead chosen Cherak Momin to contest the polls.

Another Congress legislator, Saleng A. Sangma, also a cabinet minister, is yet to make up his mind on whether he will fight for re-election.

Yesterday, the Gambegre block Congress committee was dissolved as the workers and supporters protested against the party’s decision to award the ticket to Besterfield N. Sangma.

“Although people have asked me to contest the elections, I am yet to make up my mind,” Saleng said over phone.

Apart from the Congress, the other major player in the region is the Purno A. Sangma-led National People’s Party (NPP).

But the entry of Congress rebels into the fray is likely to have an impact on the outcome of the polls.

The United Democratic Party (UDP), a Congress ally in the Meghalaya United Alliance (MUA) government, today said if the Congress, riddled with factionalism and infighting, returns to power, it would be an “insult” to the people of the state.

“There is too much of infighting within the Congress, and if this (Congress) party returns to power, it will prove that the people of Meghalaya are fools and it will be an insult to the Meghalayans,” deputy chief minister and UDP working president Bindo M. Lanong said.

He was speaking at a UDP meeting held at Jaiaw Laitdom here to muster support for the party’s candidate Bari Kharsati from North Shillong constituency.

UDP legislator Paul Lyngdoh expressed hope that regional parties would form the new government after the polls.

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