Reigning Lyngdoh, Shillong (Nov 24): Five-time former chief minister and the present state Congress chief DD Lapang on Saturday revived the hope of turning around the party’s debacle in his home district, Ri-Bhoi, and also that of another term for himself as leader of the government.
The Meghalaya Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) president asked electorates in the district, where the party had won only one of four constituencies in last elections in 2008, to strengthen his hands by giving Congress a clear mandate in the 2013 elections.
The rally at Umwang about 7km from Nongpoh, the district headquarters, also added fuel to talks about the Congress veteran being still on the party’s plan to be considered as next chief minister, if the party retains power.
Lapang was ousted as chief minister on April 20, 2010 after the Congress high command handed over the reign to his deputy Mukul Sangma, who has still managed to hold onto the post in a state where politics changes at the drop of a hat.
However, in his speech, Lapang did not utter a single word about the chief minister issue and focused more on the need to improve the party’s performance in the district.
Lapang recalled how Congress had lost the battle in three constituencies to United Democratic Party (UDP) in 2008 in Ri-Bhoi though he stood the lone winner retaining the Nongpoh seat.
The MPCC president also revealed how he was questioned by the AICC supremo Sonia Gandhi for the Ri-Bhoi debacle.
The five-time former chief minister of Congress-led governments hoped that the party will win all the seats – increased from four to five after delimitation – since the many leaders and workers from other political parties joined the Congress fold this time. Following the delimitation exercise in 2009, Umsning constituency was created in Ri-Bhoi district taking the total number of assembly seats to five in the district. Lapang, meanwhile, admitted problems within the party which he described as a “big family”.
“In a big family like the Congress, we cannot escape from problems and differences of opinions among the family members but they are sorted out amicably,” the MPCC chief claimed.
At the function, Lapang and former Union minister of state Vincent H Pala welcomed a host of people to the Congress including former chieftain (Syiem) of Mylliem Syiemship, Laborious Syiem, w ho had earlier planned to contest from Nongpoh against Lapang. Syiem “surrendered” by joining the Congress and supported the Lapang’s candidature.
In an apparent bid to woo the district’s voters, the Lok Sabha MP Vincent H Pala reg retted that Lapang had to step down as chief minister in 2010. “It was the saddest day for me when Lapang stepped down as chief minister. Lapang is my closest friend and it was he and the party who had helped me win the MP elections in 2009,” Pala told the gathering.
He also expressed the hope that Lapang will come back as chief minister after the elections. “Lapang stepped down from the chair for the good of the party. We hope that he (Lapang) will come back as chief minister though it all depends on the support of the majority of the MLAs,” Pala said.
With young Mukul Sangma currently holding the top post, Congress is likely to face a dilemma to pick up its chief ministerial candidate, if the party retains power in the state. Besides, Sangma and Lapang, other Congress MLAs – Prestone Tynsong, assembly Speaker Charles Pyngrope and RC Laloo among others – are reportedly eyeing the chief minister’s post after the polls.
~ Seven Sister’s Post
Violence looms large in run-up to Meghalaya polls
TNN | Nov 25, 2012
SHILLONG: Ominous signs of violence seem to be looming large on the horizon in the run-up to the assembly elections in Meghalaya, likely to be held in February next year, with several incidents reported from across the state, especially the insurgency-ravaged Garo Hills.
On Saturday, there was reportedly an attempt on the life of working president of the Meghalaya Pradesh Congress and former deputy chief minister Deborah Marak by militants of the A’chik National Volunteers Council (ANVC)-B faction at Rongbinggre.
Deborah, an aspiring candidate, was distributing prizes after a football match when the militants opened fire. East Garo hills deputy commissioner Vijay Mantri said about 10 heavily-armed militants fired in the air during the prize distribution ceremony causing the spectators to run helter-skelter; many of them sustained injuries as they fell down while fleeing the spot. Marak, who was distributing the prizes, also fled along with the crowd.
Meanwhile, the banned Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) too has unleashed terror in the Garo Hills region even as its chief, Champion Sangma, languishes in jail.
The relatively peaceful Khasi Hills has had its share of violence with a non-tribal labourer allegedly being assaulted to death by activists of a students’ organization at Mawiong.
“There are groups that have vested interests in flaring up communal tension ahead of the elections,” said a source in the Intelligence Bureau. “We have reports that attempts are being made to disturb the otherwise congenial atmosphere in the Khasi and Jaintia Hills,” the source added.
“With the assembly segments having been chalked out anew after delimitation, there are chances of sections of the electorate being coerced,” the IB source said.