The ruling National People’s Party (NPP) in Meghalaya hopes for a comfortable win in the forthcoming Assembly bypoll to South Tura and Ranikor constituencies on 23 August, campaign for which comes to an end on Tuesday evening. The by-election for both the constituencies has become necessary under special circumstances. In the South Tura Legislative Assembly Constituency (LAC) it has been required to give Chief Minister Conrad Sangma a chance to get elected to the Assembly to remain as the chief minister of the hill state while in Ranikor LAC, the by-election is being held after sitting MLA Martin M Danggo quit to shift allegiance from Congress to ruling NPP. Danggo is now contesting as an NPP candidate from Ranikor which has represented for the last five consecutive terms as Congress MLA.
Considered a fiefdom of the family of former Lok Sabha Speaker, Purna Sangma, the South Tura witnesses a four-cornered contest which includes NPP candidate and Conrad Sangma (the younger son of PA Sangma). The rest three candidates include Charlotte W Momin (Congress) and independent candidates John Leslee K Sangma (former MLA) and Chris Kabul A Sangma.
The by-election to South Tura was facilitated after the resignation of the sitting MLA, Agatha Sangma, a former Union minister, who quit to pave the way for the election of her brother Conrad to the Assembly. Conrad had to take up the reins of the chief minister to head the coalition government after the 27 February Assembly election this year though he is still not a member of the Assembly but the sitting MP from Tura parliamentary constituency.
In Ranikor Assembly constituency, Danggo is facing United Democratic Party’s (UDP's) Pius Marwein, People’s Democratic Front’s (PDF's), PN Syiem and Congress' Jackiush Sangma.
Danggo recently resigned from the Meghalaya House and Congress party to join the ruling NPP. He joined the ruling NPP after Conrad had kept the promise to upgrade Ranikor block to a civil sub-division thereby fulfilling a long-standing demand of Danggo who was unhappy with previous governments for not fulfilling this long-pending demand of the people of the constituency.
The stark difference in profile on contest in both the constituencies lies in the fact that while all the constituents of ruling Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) led by the NPP are supporting Conrad’s candidature in South Tura, some of the MDA constituents UDP and PDF have fielded candidate against the NPP candidate and former Congressman Danggo in Ranikor.
The ruling MDA constituents include NPP, UDP, PDF, Hill State People’s Democratic Party (HSPDP), BJP and Khun Hynnewtrep National Awakening Movement (KHNAM).
The party position in the 60-member Meghalaya House, which as on date has 58 MLAs, comprises of MDA allies having 35 seats while the opposition Congress has 20 MLAs and two Independent MLAs. The MDA is made up of NPP(20 MLAs), UDP (6MLAs), PDF (4 MLAs), HSPDP (two MLAs) BJP (2 MLAs) and KHNAM (one MLA).
Even as the Deputy Chief Minister and NPP leader Preston Tnygson claimed before the media that the NPP candidates would sail through in both the constituencies, he rejected Congress’ description of Danggo as a ‘deserter’ saying that he had first quit as Congress MLA and from the Congress party before joining the NPP.
Meanwhile, opposition Congress leader Zenith Sangma asserted that Congress would defeat Conrad for whom a win the South Tura by-poll is a must to remain as the chief minister.
"Everyone thinks that it will be tough to defeat the chief minister but the reality will be something else and the outcome will be seen on 27 August (the counting day)," said Zenith.
Updated Date: Aug 21, 2018 11:22 AM