AICC announces candidates in 57 seats

Bluebell, Michael left out; Sangma & family to contest from 5 seats

NEW DELHI/SHILLONG: Chief Minister Mukul Sangma managed two seats to contest the February 27 polls, while his wife, Dikkanchi Shira, brother and Cabinet Minister, Zenith Sangma and his wife, Sadhiarani M Sangma, who is also an MDC, are also on the list of 57 candidates released by the AICC on Saturday.
However, the sitting legislator from Chokpot, Bluebell Sangma and Independent legislator Michael T Sangma from Tikrikkilla, who resigned as MLA to join Congress, were denied tickets.
Curiously, Cabinet Minister and sitting legislator from East Shillong, Ampareen Lyngdoh, who is embroiled in an education scam case, was allotted a ticket.
Breaking the tradition when Congress used to declare candidates for all the 60 seats, the party did not field candidates in three seats, South Shillong, Pynthorumkhrah and Khliehriat.
When contacted to find out as to why tickets were denied to sitting legislator Bluebell Sangma and others, the working president of MPCC, Vincent Pala said that he was not in a position to comment on the denial of tickets to the sitting legislator and others since the chief minister knows the Garo Hills region better.
Asked why the Congress decided not to field candidates in the three seats, Pala said that since A L Hek from the Congress joined BJP, the party will take a few more days to release a new name. “We also need to find suitable names for South Shillong and Khliehriat,” he said.
Other sitting ministers and MLAs including the Assembly Speaker will contest from their respective seats. It was following a series of late-night meetings of the Central Election Committee (CEC), headed by party President Rahul Gandhi, that the Congress finalised the list of candidates.
Mukul, Pala and most members of the CEC, including former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chairman of the Screening Committee, Oscar Fernandes, attended the meeting.
Sangma and Pala left for the State on Saturday.
MPCC advisor DD Lapang, who was in the national capital, did not attend the meeting.
AICC General Secretary CP Joshi had brought the list of probable candidates to New Delhi for final approval by the party high command.
The MPCC had zeroed in on probable names from all the 60 Assembly seats on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Despite waves of desertions, both Joshi and Mukul had exuded confidence that the Congress will retain all its seats besides wresting others.
But the ground reality at the AICC headquarters and the sombre mood belied their assertions.
Interestingly, the AICC went by the pre-poll survey done by some of its “trusted” office bearers and observers who do not belong to any faction and the CEC accepted their choice, at times ignoring even the chief minister and the PCC, sources said.
Problem surfaced in South Shillong, Pynthorumkhrah and Khliehriat since the first two are open seats. The party wants to put general candidates in open seats, sources revealed.
Usually, the candidates recommended by the chief minister for the Garo Hills and those recommended by Pala for the Khasi-Jaintia Hills are accepted by the CEC.
Though Mukul’s aide Abdul Saleh was a ticket aspirant from Rajabala, Dr Ajad Zaman will contest in his place as per the list.
Although both former AICC President Sonia Gandhi and veteran leader Ahmed Patel are CEC members, they did not attend the meeting. (Full list on P-3)

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