'Rahul came and left in a chopper, doesn't know a thing about Garo Hills'

If one goes by political lineage, his is one of the few families in the country's northeast that have made a mark in the Indian national political scenario. In the Garo Hills of Meghalaya, Conrad's lineage is renowned to say the least. Apart from being the state's former finance minister and being the present Leader of Opposition in the Meghalaya Assembly, Conrad biggest identity has always been being the son of former Meghalaya chief minister, former Lok Sabha speaker and National People's Party (India) chief Purno Agitok Sangma. This is not his only connection to politics.

His sister Agatha Sangma is an MP representing Tura constituency and a former Union minister of state while his brother James Sangma is a colleague in the state assembly. Educated at the prestigious Wharton Business School, Conrad Kongkal Sangma became the state's youngest finance minister in 2008 at the age of 30 and also presented the budget within a short span.

 Rahul came and left in a chopper, doesnt know a thing about Garo Hills

Meghalaya Leader of Opposition Conrad Sangma. Image courtesy Conrad's Facebook account

He represents the Selsella (ST) constituency in Meghalaya's West Garo Hills district. Conrad in a no holds barred chat with Firstpost, spoke about his father PA Sangma's return to national politics after six years, his challenger Daryl William Momin and what is next for his sister Agatha Sangma.

Your father is again fighting the polls from Tura constituency. Why has he decided to return to national politics after a long gap of six years?

There has been a lot of grassroots pressure on my father to return to active politics and take charge. As you are aware within a very short period of time, 20 new militant organisations have cropped up in the Garo Hills. These underground organisations have been resorting to all sorts of unlawful activities by usurping people's businesses and properties. They have made the daily lives of the people living in the region very difficult. Due to this deteriorating law and order situation, the local people approached my father and requested him to represent them. Considering the turmoil of his own people, my father took the decision to fight the Lok Sabha election from Tura.

But what happens to your sister Agatha who is the present Lok Sabha MP from the constituency? What is next for her?

Agatha herself realised that her father should return to hold the reins again. In fact, the proposition that our father PA Sangma should fight the elections again came from Agatha only. So after consultations with party leaders and people from the grassroots level we consciously decided that our father is the right person to represent Tura in Lok Sabha. As for Agatha, she already has her task cut out. She will be totally involved with the expansion of the party. As a newly formed party we have a lot of ground to cover. The Assembly polls in Assam and Manipur are not very far away if we want to consolidate our party's strength in those states.

What kind of prospects do you see for National People's Party (India) in the Lok Sabha elections?

Apart from the two Lok Sabha constituencies (Tura and Shillong) in Meghalaya, we will be fighting three or four seats in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. We hope to get positive results in all the seats we fight.

Daryl William Momin being the grandson of Meghalaya's first chief minister Williamson Sangma is not a weak candidate. He is also being mentored by the present state Chief Minister Mukul Sangma. Is your father ready to take on that challenge?

I would beg to differ on that. There is no doubt that Daryl William Momin is a good person but he has very limited political exposure. He has just completed his graduation. Daryl joined the Congress a few months back and truly speaking his mentoring has not started even. Many in the Congress are unhappy with his candidature. There is a dissent within the Congress that so many experienced members were ignored due to the pressure given by the chief minister. People in the party are feeling that they have been sacrificed for someone else. The condition is such that the Congress members do not know Daryl and he doesn't know them either. Having said that I won't like to comment upon why the chief minister is doing that.

Not long ago Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi toured the Garo Hills. Rahul will definitely draw some votes for the Congress. Won't you consider that as a threat to your father's electoral prospects?

Rahul Gandhi's visit to Garo Hills was a very quick one. He just had one party meeting and there was hardly any response. There was no impact at all and there was no presence of the common people in the meeting. His meeting made no breakthrough for the Congress. He came by chopper and left by chopper. There was simply no connection with the people on the ground.

Do you believe that the northeast region, including Meghalaya, is witnessing the Narendra Modi wave?

The country as a whole is looking for a change. There is little doubt that Narendra Modi is the right person at the right time to lead the country. There are lot of expectations from the Bharatiya Janata Party prime ministerial candidate. People are looking up to him with hope. They are already fed up of the endless corruption both at the state and the national level. Contrary to belief, Modi is actually uniting the Hindu and Muslim communities and inspiring them to look forward to something better.

What are the major poll issues is your party fighting on apart from the militancy issue that you already said?Why do you think people should vote for your party?

There is lot of anti-incumbency that the Congress is facing both at the national and state level. The Congress is not in touch with the people who voted them to power. They made so many poll promises in their manifesto in the state Assembly polls last year. They have hardly fulfilled any. The excuse they are giving now is that they could not implement it because the poll code is in place. The are now telling the people that the promises would be kept after the Lok Sabha elections are over. In addition, all the major Central schemes like MNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act), Rajiv Awas Yojana, National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM) etc. made no impact to the people of the state. Add to that the national issue of price rise apart from the failed UPA schemes.

As I said before, the choice of candidates will also be a major factor. We have put forward the best but the candidates from other parties particularly Congress are lacking in popular appeal. We have got solid reasons for people to vote for us.

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Updated Date: Mar 24, 2014 14:32:25 IST