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Meghalaya assembly elections: Two prominent families with 7 nominees, and other electoral clans

There are 370 candidates in the fray in Meghalaya, including 32 women; 18.4 lakh citizens are eligible to vote at 3,083 polling stations.

Written by Samudra Gupta Kashyap | Guwahati |
February 26, 2018 6:07:56 am
meghalaya elections, Mukul Sangma, Dikanchi Shira, Congress, Agatha Sangma, Sanjay Sangma, James Sangma, meghalaya elections date, meghalaya elections campaign, indian express news Upper row: Mukul Sangma, wife Dikanchi Shira and the CM’s brother Zenith Sangma (Congress); lower row: Agatha Sangma, brother James, and their brother Conrad’s brother-in-law Sanjay Sangma (NPP). Photos: Express archive; Shira’s website; Twitter accounts of James Sangma and state government (Zenith); YouTube post by NPP (Sanjay)

The Meghalaya assembly elections have been marked only by a major battle between the ruling Congress and the BJP, which has whipped up a vigorous campaign, but also as a battle for power between two important political families of the state.

One family is that of former Lok Sabha Speaker the late Purno Sangma, and the other is that of current Chief Minister Mukul Sangma.

In the state’s first assembly or Lok Sabha election since the death of Purno Sangma in March 2016, it is his son Conrad Sangma, a Lok Sabha member, who is leading the National People’s Party (NPP) that the senior Sangma had founded in 2012. While Conrad is not contesting the election, his sister Agatha and brother James are both in the fray from the family-founded party.

Agatha Sangma, 37, a Masters in Environmental Management from Nottingham University, was a Union minister in the UPA government after having won the Tura Lok Sabha seat in 2009. Now, she is locked in a nine-cornered contest in South Tura assembly constituency. Her brother James Pangsang Kongkal Sangma, 42, a sitting MLA, is among eight candidates contesting from the adjoining Dadengre seat.

There is a third candidate related to the Purno Sangma family, Sanjay Sangma, 43, who is the NPP’s nominee for the Mahendraganj constituency. A businessman who owns a wine shop and a two-wheeler spare parts shop, Sanjay is a brother-in-law of Conrad Sangma, with his affidavit saying he had read up to Class VIII.

While the Purno Sangma family has three members contesting the elections, Chief Minister Mukul Sangma’s family has four of its members in the fray. Mukul Sangma, an MBBS, is seeking reelection from Ampati constituency in a triangular contest while his wife Dikkanchi D Shira, 52, an arts graduate, is locked in a fight in Mahendraganj against seven other candidates.

The chief minister’s younger brother Zenith Sangma, 47, a sitting MLA, is seeking reelection from Rangsakona, while his wife Saddhiarani M Sangma, 46 — a business woman who owns three trucks, two JCB excavators among seven vehicles and has a stock of coal worth Rs 9 lakh — is a candidate for Gambegre. All four are nominees of the Congress.

Another family that has four members contesting the election is that of Ngaitlang Dhar, 49, of the NPP, who is also the richest candidate in the fray. Dhar, whose affidavit says he had read up to Class VIII, has declared assets worth over Rs 290 crore, which include 140 vehicles, 100 of these trucks, with the list also showing high-end SUVs and sedans of brands such as BMW and Mercedes. The declarations show Dhar’s assets had grown by Rs 55 crore in the last five years. Dhar is contesting from Umroi while his brother Sniawbhalang Dhar is the NPP nominee for Nartiang. Their brother-in-law Wailadmiki Shylla, 26, is the NPP candidate in Jowai, while Ngaitlang’s 25-year old son Dasakhiat Lamare — a businessman worth Rs 40 crore with assets that include 16 vehicles — is the NPP candidate from Mawhati.

There is also a father-daughter fighting the election — Pynshai Manik Syiem, 58, from Mawphland and Teilinia S Thangkhiew, 35, from Mylliem. Syiem and his daughter, a BCom in travel and tourism who is currently a member of the District Council, are both HSPDP candidates.

Again, Donkupar Massar, 49, is contesting from Ranikor on an NPP ticket while his wife Grace Mary Kharpuri, 50, a member of the district council, is a candidate of the People’s Democratic Front in Pynursla. Both Massar and his Kharpuri are engaged in the business of exporting coal and limestone to Bangladesh.

Rowell Sangma, 79, the oldest among 372 candidates contesting the 60-member Meghalaya house, is contesting from Mawkyrwat on an NPP ticket, having quit the Congress a couple of months ago. His son-in-law Sounder Cajee too is a NPP candidate, contesting from South Shillong.

Overall, the Congress has fielded 59 candidates and the BJP 47. Though they are contesting separately in Meghalaya, the NPP of Purno Sangma’s family and the BJP are partners in NEDA (North East Democratic Alliance). There are 370 candidates in the fray in Meghalaya, including 32 women; 18.4 lakh citizens are eligible to vote at 3,083 polling stations.

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