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Khasi Hills MLAs add teeth to Cong campaign
TURA: To add lustre to what has so far been a low-key campaign for the Ampati by-election, political rivals Congress and the National People’s Party are lining up heavyweights to bolster their respective campaign in South West Garo Hills District.
Ampati, which goes to the polls on May 28, is witnessing a triangular fight between Congress’s Miani D Shira, NPP’s Clement G Momin and Independent Subhankar Koch.
The Congress, whose former chief minister Mukul Sangma vacated his Ampati seat while retaining Songsak, is pulling out all its punches to keep its flag flying in its bastion.
Adding weight to the party is a group of legislators from the Khasi Hills region led by senior Congress leader and former speaker Charles Pyngrope who are touring the constituency mobilising support for Miani.
Legislators who have descended on the campaign scene alongside Pyngrope include Himalaya M Shangpliang (Mawsynram), Process T Sawkmie (Mawlai), David Nongrum (Mawryngkneng) and Kimfa Sidney Marbaniang (Rambrai- Jyrngam).
All India Mahila Congress president Sushmita Dev is also due to address a poll campaign at Betasing on Monday with former chief minister Mukul Sangma.
“We are confident of a resounding victory because the good work done by Mukul Sangma in Ampati is enough ground to prove his legacy will continue. Everyone can see the development brought to Ampati
which has quality roads and infrastructure,” says Congress legislator Shangpliang while speaking to The Shillong Times at Ampati on Wednesday.
He dismisses opposition allegations about the Congress encouraging dynastic politics by nominating the former chief minister’s daughter for the party ticket.
“Just as Ampati was nurtured during the tenure of Mukul Sangma, we would like to see its continuity and it justifies Miani D Shira as the right choice to represent the constituency,” says the former bureaucrat.
Hitting out at opposition claims of ‘under-performance’ by legislators who sit in the opposition, senior Congress leader Charles Pyngrope said, “Nowhere is it mentioned that an MLA cannot function if he or she sits in the opposition. If you are an MLA who works hard then you will get the job done, irrespective of whether one sits in the ruling or opposition benches.”
Lending support to Pyngrope, former minister Zenith Sangma recalled his elder brother’s maiden electoral victory in Ampati two and a half decades ago.
“When he (Mukul) started off in politics he was also in the opposition bench having been elected as an Independent candidate. But that did not stop him from bringing development to the constituency which has continued ever since,” says Zenith.
“There is no challenge from the NPP. We will win overwhelmingly. In fact we will get more votes in comparison to the last elections in February,” a confident Zenith said, reminding supporters who throng his in-laws’ home at Ampatigre about the huge margin of over 8000 votes his brother secured against BJP’s Bakul Hajong in the February elections.
“That time he did not even get time to campaign in Ampati. Now that he is on the campaign ground you can imagine how huge the victory margin of the Congress will be,” said Zenith.
His statement, however, failed to ruffle the NPP and its top leaders who are also on the field visiting villages to mobilise support for party candidate Clement G Momin.
“The era of Congress is long over. It is history. The people of Ampati are wise and know which party is in power. Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma is working very hard to bring about change and development in Meghalaya and Ampati should partner and strengthen the NPP. We want the people of Ampati to be part of the new government,” said Meghalaya Home Minister and NPP leader James K Sangma.
He accused Mukul Sangma of abandoning Ampati for his own interests and called on voters to reject the Congress.
“Ours is a government which helps the people, not abandon them. In less than a month’s time after government formation Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma was able to convince the centre to release Rs 150 crore for clearing salaries of hundreds of SSA teachers which the previous Congress government failed to do in its entire term,” James added.