National

In Meghalaya's 2 Seats, 2 Women Candidates Face Multi-Cornered Challenge


Agatha Sangma and Mazel Ampareen Lyngdoh are the two candidates of the NPP in Meghalaya

Guwahati:

Mazel Ampareen Lyngdoh, 58, once a key Congress leader in Meghalaya, is now a minister in the Conrad Sangma government. She is also the National People’s Party (NPP) candidate for the important Shillong Lok Sabha constituency. Though the BJP is supporting Ms Lyngdoh, the Shillong seat has been with the Congress for 30 years.

Meghalaya will see a multi-cornered fight for its two Lok Sabha seats. With 10 candidates contesting, a lot is in stake for all the parties.

The BJP has not entered the contest to keep National Democratic Alliance (NDA) votes undivided. Its key NPP that fielded women candidates for both the seats has the task cut out to hold on to former Chief Minister PA Sangma’s legacy. The NPP hopes to take the Shillong seat from the Congress this time.

Making the contest interesting is the challenged by the Trinamool Congress in Meghalaya, a state where West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s party views as winnable.

The NPP has no anti-incumbency worries in Shillong since the seat is with the Congress, and it is the current MP who faces this challenge.

“The NPP is much ahead in its campaign. We are serving the people, and they know it,” says Ampareeen Lyngdoh.

Despite the NDA’s big wins in 2014 and 2019, and the Congress being out of power in Meghalaya for the past six years, the party managed to hold on to its Shillong bastion. Three-time Shillong MP and former Union Minister Vincent Pala is among the last few key Congress leaders in the northeast.

“Today, people know every vote for the NPP is a vote to the BJP. I am the politician in the northeast whom the BJP could not dislodge. So far other Congress MPs have switched over due to threats, or they were lured. They sent the Enforcement Directorate and the income tax department after me, but I trust the people of Shillong,” said Vincent Pala.

Over 300 km away from Shillong, in the state’s Garo Hills region, the home turf of Chief Minister Conrad Sangma, his party has fielded another woman – Agatha Sangma, 43.

The Chief Minister’s sister and a former Union Minister, Agatha Sangma will contest from Tura, a seat that she holds at present.

This constituency has been with the Sangmas since the mid-1970s. The two women candidates of the NPP for Shillong and Tura are asking for votes in the name of the double-engine government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Conrad Sangma.

“This election is about continuing on the part of development, and the NPP-led government has given such a wonderful governance in the past six years. Teams led by the NPP have been well accepted by the people,” said Agatha Sangma.

The contest for the two Lok Sabha seats in Christian-dominated Meghalaya is not a straightforward fight between the NDA and the Opposition INDIA bloc. There are six candidates for Shillong and four for Tura. They include leaders of regional parties who plan kingmakers in state elections, and are now trying their luck in the national elections.

“NPP has chosen to ally with the BJP, but Meghalaya has always voted against the BJP. The Congress is a spent force,” said Paul Lyndoh, cabinet minister and working president of United Democratic party (UDP).

Outside Bengal, the Trinamool believes it has a small chance in Meghalaya’s Tura, where former minister Zenith Sangma has been fielded. Key TMC leader and former Chief Minister Mukul Sangma is campaigning hard for his younger brother, and attacking the NPP and Agatha Sangma over supporting the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, or CAA.

“While campaigning in the last election, she assured they will oppose the CAA, but in parliament she voted for the bill, so the people of Meghalaya were betrayed,” said Zenith Sangma.



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