Purno set for 10th innings in Lok Sabha

Pala beats PBM, retains Shillong

Vincent Pala shows victory sign along with his family members on Friday. (ST)

SHILLONG/TURA: Former Lok Sabha Speaker Purno Sangma has made his way back to national politics by winning the Tura Lok Sabha seat, while incumbent Congress member Vincent H. Pala retained the Shillong seat in Meghalaya.

Sangma, a candidate of the National People’s Party which is now a part of the BJP-led NDA, defeated Congress candidate Daryl William Cheran Momin by 39,716 votes.

Sangma polled 239,301 votes while Momin got 199,585 votes.

Former Union minister and Congress leader Pala defeated his nearest rival, independent candidate supported by both HSPDP and KHNAM PBM Basaiawmoit by 40,379 votes.

Pala has emerged victorious fighting non-cooperation of his own colleagues during the campaign, anti-incumbency factor, the Modi wave and also stiff challenge from regional parties.

The total votes secured by Pala is 209340 followed by his rival Rev. Basaiawmoit(168961 votes), Paul Lyngdoh of UDP(106817), Shibun Lyngdoh of BJP (95979), Armerington Kharshiing of AAP (8815), Richard Shabong of CPI(7418) and Independents Ivoryna Shylla (6605), Denis Siangshai (5092). None of the Above (NOTA) got 10,960 votes.

The division within the regional parties has become a blessing for Pala. The total votes polled by Basaiawmoit and Paul Lyngdoh is way ahead of Pala’s votes, and HSPDP, KHNAM and UDP are partners in the ruling coalition in KHADC.

Pala had the biggest victory margin in East Khasi Hills district.

From the Assembly constituencies falling under East Khasi Hills district, Pala secured 86,759 votes and his close rival Basaiawmoit got 68884 votes. BJP’s Shibun Lyngdoh secured 53136 votes. Pala received a total of 29,153 votes from the five assembly constituencies of Ri Bhoi, whereas his next rival Rev. PBM Basaiawmoit secured 26055 votes. Pala also gained in West and East Jaintia Hills as he secured 51671 votes against his the next rival Basaiawmoit who got 32023. Shibun Lyngdoh finished third with 31975.

Basaiawmoit secured as many as 36125 votes in West and South West Khasi Hills. However, Pala had the biggest share with 41672 votes.

A big handicap for Pala was the adversities he faced from his own party men, who, soon after the polls, went to the extent of claiming that Rev. PBM Basaiawmoit has a better chance to win Shillong seat.

It was almost single handedly that Pala handled the campaign.

While Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi campaigned for Congress candidate for Tura seat Daryl Momin, none of the star campaigners from Delhi visited Shillong to campaign for Pala.

Chief Minister Dr Mukul Sangma failed to give time to Pala due to his ‘busy election schedule’ in Tura. Moreover, many legislators were not in the field to ensure the victory of Pala.

These factors resulted in the reduced victory margin for Pala.

In 2009 Lok Sabha polls when he contested the Shillong seat for the first time, the victory margin of Pala was 1,07,868 . He defeated his next rival UDP candidate John Kharshiing .

While Pala secured a total of 232270 votes in 2009 polls, Kharshiing got a total of 124402 votes.

Purno returns to Parliament for a record 10th time: Garo Hills strongman Purno Sangma has proven his critics, including Mukul Sangma, wrong by winning the Tura Lok Sabha seat for a record 10th time, albeit with a limited margin.

The results showed the NPP literally swept the Garo strongholds in the hills while Congress was able to cushion the blow to some extent by winning in the minority dominated plains belt except for Phulbari assembly constituency. Purno’s victory at Phulbari is a surprise as the elected MLA is Congress veteran and current assembly speaker A T Mondol.

Out of 24 assembly constituencies in the five districts of Garo Hills which make up the Tura Lok Sabha seat, NPP won in 18 assembly segments while Congress bagged six including Mukul Sangma’s home constituency Ampati.

NPP won in the constituencies of Dadenggre, Raksamgre, Phulbari, Salmanpara, North and South Tura, Dalu, Gambegre, Chokpot, Siju-Rongara, Baghmara, Williamnagar, Rongjeng, Songsak, Kharkutta, Mendipather, Resubelpara and Bajengdoba.

Congress was able to win in Rangsakona, Ampati, Mahendraganj, Tikrikilla, Rajabala and Selsella.

Interestingly, as many as nine assembly segments under Tura Lok Sabha constituency currently held by Congress saw defeat at the hands of the NPP while another four constituencies belonging to Independent candidates supporting the Mukul Sangma government also fell by the wayside as the NPP juggernaut rolled through.

The sole consolation for the Congress was the large margins of victory in the six assembly segments which went in their favour.

At the start of counting of votes from the EVMs, the NPP started off with an early morning lead but Congress narrowed the gap as votes from the plain belt began to be counted.

A surprise was the high number of The None Of The Above (NOTA) votes registered in almost all the assembly segments representing Tura Lok Sabha seat. The number of NOTA votes were a staggering several thousand.0