Eight millionaires in Meghalaya electoral battle
Eight of the 10 candidates in the fray in Meghalaya's two parliamentary constituencies that go to polls Wednesday are millionaires.
The ruling Congress in the state is pitted against fractured regional parties for the two Lok Sabha seats in this mountainous northeastern state, where elecrtions are to be held April 9.
Meghalaya has two parliamentary constituencies - Shillong and Tura. Eight of the 10 candidates for these are crorepatis.
Votes can be cast from 7 a.m to 5 p.m. April 9.
Of a total 1,567,241 electors in Meghalaya, 22.62 percent are in the 18-25 age group, while 50.43 percent are women.
Among the electors, 586,501 voters are in Tura, divided into 24 assembly segments, while 980,740 voters will cast their votes for the Shillong seat that has 36 assembly segments.
In Shillong parliamentary constituency, there are eight candidates, including lone woman candidate Ivoryna Shylla, who is fighting the election as an Independent.
Prominent candidates in the electoral ring from Meghalaya's capital include sitting Congress Lok Sabha member Vincent H. Pala, Paul Lyngdoh (United Democratic Party), Shibun Lyngdoh (Bharatiya Janata Party), and P.B.M. Basaiawmoit (Independent).
Basaiawmoit is supported by two regional parties, the Hill State People's Democratic Party and Khun Hynniewtrep National Awakening Movement, as also by some Independent legislators. The UDP candidate is supported by the National People's Party (NPP).
However, all eyes will focus on the Tura parliamentary constituency where former Lok Sabha Speaker and NPP candidate Purno Agitok Sangma is ranged against the Congress' Daryl William Cheran Momin, who is fighting for change.
Agatha K.Sangma, the youngest parliamentarian in the current Lok Sabha representing Tura constituency, quit the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and decided not to contest the April 9 election to make room for her father who had earlier represented the constituency.
The NCP, which did not field any candidate in both the parliamentary constituencies, declared support to the Congress nominees Pala and Momin. The NPP candidate is supported by the Garo National Council, UDP and some Independent legislators.
"The electoral battle in Tura parliamentary constituency is for political supremacy...veteran politician Purno Sangma has a slight edge over the Congress candidate because of his political experience," said Pillar G. Momin, a political science student.
Sangma is banking on an electorate of 586,501 spread across 24 assembly constituencies to return him to parliament since the majority of the Garo populace is fed up with the ruling Congress-led Meghalaya United Alliance government for its failure to tackle the burgeoning militancy problem.
"I fought nine elections from Tura and everybody knows the results. I am also confident to win this election too as the electors have assured me of their votes," the NPP chief told IANS.
Sangma's foray into politics began in 1977 when he won the Lok Sabha election from Tura on the Congress ticket. He went on to win the Lok Sabha elections in 1984, 1991, 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2004 besides the by-election in 2006. In 2004, he contested as a Trinamool Congress candidate.
For a brief period - 1988 to 1990 - he was Meghalaya chief minister and was also the candidate of the opposition in the last presidential election against Pranab Mukherjee.
However, the Congress does not seem to be worried and exuded confidence to retain the Shillong parliamentary seat and also snatch away the Tura constituency, considered to be the stronghold of the NPP chief.
"We are confident to win both the seats. I have reasons to trust and am confident that the electorates of the state will repose their faith and confidence in the party and our candidates," Chief Minister Mukul Sangma told IANS.
"There is a visible response from the people in the region towards the Congress candidates. The people have reposed faith in us due to our developmental initiatives and we are confident they will ensure the victory of our nominee," he added.
(Posted on 07-04-2014)