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By Our Reporter, TNT News | SHILLONG, Jan 15, 2018:
The exit of Sanbor Shullai to join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) recently has compelled the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) to fill the state party president's post. In line with this, the NCP has chosen Saleng A Sangma to lead the party in the forthcoming election.
Sangma formally took over as the party president on Monday after resigning as member of the Legislative Assembly.
It may be mentioned that the two-time legislator from Gambegre was first elected in 2008 in a Congress ticket and was even in the Dr Mukul Sangma led Cabinet as the Community and Rural Development Minister. However, in the 2013 state polls, he had to contest as an independent candidate after he was denied the Congress ticket due to differences with the Chief Minister.
Fighting as an Independent candidate, he managed to win the seat again by defeating Besterfield N. Sangma of the Congress.
It may be mentioned that in the current house of the Meghalaya Assembly, the NCP had two MLAs – Sanbor Shullai (South Shillong) and Marthon Sangma (Mendipathar). However, Shullai quit the party on January 2 to join the BJP and is expected to contest the ensuing election on its ticket. While Marthon will be joining the Congress.
Speaking to newsmen, the former Gambegre legislator said since responsibility has been given to him, he will explore every possibility to build the party with the support of the people.
When asked about the reason behind the defection of former NCP president, Sanbor Shullai, Sangma feigned ignorance stating "I can't talk about them; I don't know why they left."
Sangma reminded that the party managed to overcome many hurdles after one of its founders Late PA Sangma left the party to form the National People's Party (NPP) few years back. Later, the void was filled by Sanbor Shullai who also managed to make a difference. "This way, the party will move on. Even if one leader leaves, the others will take their place and make a mark," Saleng said.
Portraying the NCP as an inclusive party, the newly appointed president said that "We have seen that the congress has not been true to its claim of working for the development of the state. In these past few years, during the congress regime, development is concentrated only on those areas from where the Chief Minister hails."
Stating that there is a vacuum in the developmental front, Sangma said "If the CM is a Khasi, development will concentrated only in Khasi Hills and now with Dr Mukul Sangma, the focal point is shifted to Garo Hills. But we will ensure that the entire state gets equal attention and over-all development will be met."
Pointing out that the state is marred with lack of development in so many areas; NCP chief said "Our state is totally backward now. The state which once was an educational hub is now losing its credit. Only if more emphasis was laid on improving the education system, our state would have been the best."
When asked about the perception that the NCP was a Garo hills based party, the NCP president asked, "When Sanbor Shullai was the president (of the state NCP) did anyone say it was Khasi party?"
When asked about the number of candidates that the party is likely to field in the upcoming elections, Saleng said that they need time to discuss about the potential candidates. "We have to look for candidates with prospects and who are serious enough to dedicate themselves for the people," he said while adding that it all depends on the people's mandate.
Sangma also informed that the party will likely come out with the first list tomorrow (Jan16). "Whatever number we get, we will make a difference. In a democracy, we need a team. That's why I joined the party," he added.
The former legislator also informed that they have received applications from 60 constituencies, and the party even received two or three applications from a single constituency.
Attacking the other national parties like the Congress and BJP for their failure to respect the democratic set up, the NCP chief said that the BJP claimed of being a secular party but its actions speak louder than words and further project the saffron party as 'anti-minorities'.
The Congress, on the other hand, is known for its corrupt practices and the recent turn of events and criminal cases lodged against its legislators recently is a testimony to this claim.
While calling upon the people to choose carefully, Sangma said "We put our faith on the people. They have to think carefully, to analyse the situation by observing what the other states go through under either BJP or Congress rule."
Sanmgma confidently said that even if the BJP gets a chance to open an account this year, its elected members will be put in the last bench. "If the (BJP) can suppress its own community, then what are we? We should be weary and have common sense," he said while asking people to draw example from other BJP-ruled states. "They are suppressing Muslims, Christians and the sad part is even their own religious community," he added.
Furthermore, Sangma informed that one sitting MLA is likely to join the NCP and said that former NCP legislators ECB Bamon and Desang Sangma will be contesting from the party.
Meanwhile, as soon as he assumed the office of the NCP president on Monday, Sangma got as shot in the arm with many BJP supporters from Shillong city joining the party.
The prominent among them were Predecessor Rumnong who was expecting a BJP ticket from Pynthorumkhrah and another BJP ticket aspirant from South Shillong Vikash Gupta joined the party.
Meanwhile others who quit the BJP to join the NCP were Batshanbor Wanswett, the president of the BJP Pynthoumkhrah mandal, Junas Jyrwa chief of the Pynthorumkhrah, Mahila Mandal, Huebert Kharmuti, president BJYM Pynthorumkharh Mnadal and Darihun Marbaniang president of the BJP, Mahila Morcha, Shillong City.