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Tura thumbs up for Conrad, Danggo bites the dust

Five-time legislator loses to UDP’s greenhorn in Ranikor

Our Bureau

TURA/ MAWKYRWAT: Chief Minister Conrad Sangma’s landslide victory in South Tura by-poll may be “on expected lines” but his NPP suffered a setback in Ranikor with its ally UDP vanquishing the five-time MLA of the constituency.
The UDP had been fighting the Assembly elections from Ranikor since 1998. Khrang Lyngkhoi was the candidate of the party in 1998, 2003 and 2008.
In 2013, former MLA late Probin K Raswai was the candidate of UDP. In the last five consecutive general elections, the UDP candidates always came second and could not defeat Martin M Danggo, then in the Congress.
But the party’s 27-year-old candidate Pius Marwein, a former assistant finance secretary of the KSU South West Khasi Hills, finally ended the party’s over 20-year-old pursuit of power by defeating Danggo by a margin of 2,896 votes.
Pius secured a total of 13,183 votes of the 26,457 votes polled, 4,233 votes more than the last election in February. Danggo with 10,287 votes was 665 short of the last count.
With this, UDP now has seven members in the 60-member Meghalaya Legislative Assembly.
PN Syiem, former CEM of the KHADC and PDF candidate who declared himself as a “common candidate”, was able to secure only 1,978 votes. Congress candidate Jackiush Sangma managed to get only 938 votes and 184 voters chose NOTA.
In Tura, the by-poll results were on expected lines given the voting percentage, said Conrad after the results were declared. “Turnout was slightly low. We thought it would go up to 80-85 percent,” he said.
Out of the 22,217 votes cast on August 23, Conrad won by a record 13,656 votes drawing a margin of 8,421 with the nearest candidate, Congress’s Charlotte Momin (5,235 votes). It overtook the highest record margin of the February general elections in which the UDP’s Kyrmen Shylla won from Khliehriat by 8,181 votes.
Independents John Leslee Sangma and Chris Kabul A Sangma received 2,211 and 897 votes, respectively. As many as 218 of the electorate voted for NOTA.
NPP took a lead from the beginning of the counting that began at 8am at Tura’s Extension Training Centre in Dakopgre on Monday morning.
A beaming chief minister, accompanied by wife Mehtab Chandee A Sangma, mother Soradini K Sangma and a host of NPP MLAs, MDCs and party leaders arrived outside the counting hall to the cheers of hundreds of supporters who waved flags and jostled to shake hands with the new victor from Garo Hills.
Earlier, the chief minister paid a visit to his father’s grave to offer prayers before heading to the counting hall area.
Border area support
Speaking to reporters after the result, UDP’s Marwein thanked his supporters, leaders of the primary units and at the district and the state levels for supporting him. He also thanked the people in the border area “whose support contributed to this much awaited victory for the UDP”.
“Road connectivity, adequate medicines and manpower in the Ranikor Community Health Centre and the two primary health centres at Khonjoy and Wahkaji villages and bringing college to Ranikor are on the top of the priority list which I will immediately follow up,” Marwein said.
When asked about issues like coal and uranium mining, Marwein said he would follow up the coal mining issue “because it not only benefitted the people of Ranikor area but also contributed to the whole state in terms of employment and revenue”.
“I don’t want to say anything on uranium issue because it is not on me to decide but on the people. I will go according to the voice of the people,” said the young leader.
Defection not the reason
To a query, the president of NPP South West Khasi Hills and candidate for the upcoming council election, Kitborlang Nongrem denied that Danggo was defeated because he joined NPP from the Congress.
“No it’s not because of (him) joining the NPP, it is because the people of the constituency wanted to change the leader and we accept the mandate of the people,” Nongrem said and congratulated Marwein on his victory and wished that he would “take the constituency and the new civil sub-division forward”.
Danggo was not available for comments.
“The main reason that we lost the election is because this time Jackiush Sangma and PN Syiem could not get votes like other candidates in the last election (BJP’s Pelcy Snaitang 1907 votes, PDF’s Airmarshall Diengngan 1453 votes and NPP’s Donkupar Massar 3256 votes) and also in the previous elections. Had they (Jackiush and Syiem) secured more votes, we would have still won,” Nongrem said while justifying that the votes secured by Danggo this by-election was almost the same like in the previous one.
When asked whether Danggo and his team regret leaving the Congress, Nongrem said the question does not arise because Danggo has already stated that even if he is defeated, he will not regret because his wish is to get a civil sub-division for Ranikor.
“He had said his wish was the civil sub-division and if people ask him not to contest election he will accept that because he got what he wanted,” Nongrem said.
President of the UDP Ranikor circle GG Bung Snaitang said the result shows that the people of Ranikor cannot be taken for granted by any public representative. “The mandate shows that the people of Ranikor are not fools, and the result will be a warning to all those MLAs who have planned to defect from one party to another,” Snaitang said.

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