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It is Sangma versus Sangma in Meghalaya with Chief Minister Mukul D Sangma of the Congress vowing to trounce former Lok Sabha speaker Purno Agitok Sangma, who last year contested for President against Pranab Mukherjee.
Chief Minister Sangma has fielded 27-year-old Daryl William Cheran Momin, grandson of Captain Williamson Sangma, first chief minister of the state, against Purno Sangma, 66, in Tura, a constituency he has held since 1977 and which elected his daughter Agatha in 2009. It was briefly held 1989-91 by Stanford Marak of Janata Dal.
Mukul Sangma was himself mentored by Purno Sangma — a fact he vehemently denies — but the Congress is now banking on the young voters of Tura and the influence of its 13 MLAs and five independents out of the 24 assembly segments in the constituency.
“After losing the Presidential election, Purno Sangma had declared he was giving up active politics. Why has he come back now?” said Mukul Sangma. “Moreover, our candidate is not just the grandson of the first chief minister. He is also young and highly qualified. After all, it is the young and first-time voters who are going to make the difference,” he said.
Daryl, on the other hand, is talking about change. “I can relate to the younger generation. People will vote for the Congress for the good work done,” said Daryl.
“Things are not that simple for the Congress,” said James Sangma, NPP MLA and Purno Sangma’s son. “My father has a strong image. Whatever development in the Garo Hills is because of him. Moreover, since it is a straight fight, three independents and all other parties are helping him,” claimed James.
In Shillong on the other hand it is an eight-cornered contest, with sitting MP and former union minister Vincent H Pala (Congress) banking on non-Congress votes splitting. The main contender, Paul Lyngdoh of UDP, is also backed by NPP.
Mukul Sangma is optimistic of a Congress victory in both seats. There have been reports of some Congress MLAs not cooperating and even clandestinely campaigning for opposition candidates. The chief minister not showing up at Vincent Pala’s campaign rally is anther talking point.