National People’s Party (NPP) president Conrad Sangma on Tuesday took oath as the 12th Chief Minister of Meghalaya in capital Shillong. The regional party brought about a stunning change in its electoral fortunes on March 3 this year, when the results of the assembly elections were declared, by winning 19 of 59 seats — the highest by any regional party in the past two decades in Meghalaya. Even as the Congress had emerged as the single largest party, forty-year-old Sangma managed to stitch an alliance with other regional parties, the BJP and an Independent MLA to form a coalition government in the state.
Born in Tura, part of South Garo Hills in the state, and a graduate in Entrepreneurial Management and Finance from the University of London, Sangma currently represents Tura as a Lok Sabha member. He entered politics at an early age in the shadow of his father P A Sangma, the former Lok Sabha speaker who was a nine-time parliamentarian and Meghalaya chief minister from 1988 to 1990. It was not before 1999 that Conrad had his first exposure to the general elections when he served as a campaign manager to his father.
Sangma’s electoral stint in the state began in 2008 when he was elected to the state assembly and served as the finance minister in the Donkupar Roy-led non-Congress government for a year. He also served as the leader of the opposition in the assembly from 2010 to 2013. In the 2013 Meghalaya elections, NPP lost to Congress with a vote share of less than 10 per cent.
Conrad Sangma made his debut in Lok Sabha in 2016 from Tura parliamentary seat after winning the byelection necessitated by his father’s death. He also took over the reigns of the NPP.
In the assembly elections, he projected the NPP as the main contender against the Congress that was at the helm in the state for 10 years. Sangma defeated Mukul Sangma’s wife Dikkanchi D Shira by a record margin of nearly two lakh votes and retained the West Garo Hills constituency held by his father for over four decades.