SHILLONG, Sep 20: Congress in Meghalaya is at cross-roads with former chief minister Mukul Sangma who is sulking over the manner in which Vincent H. Pala was selected as PCC chief, apparently weighing his political options.
According to informed sources, Sangma fears that Pala was working towards becoming chief minister should Congress fare well in 2023 elections. He therefore has begun to plan for creating his own destiny by either forming a new outfit or aligning with the saffron party. But these are mere nebulous thoughts that might take a little while to crystallise, sources said.
At a time when the Congress is trying hard to revive itself before the 2023 Assembly polls, the party’s face in Meghalaya, Mukul Sangma’s estrangement may cost the party dearly in Garo Hills in the upcoming elections.
A Congress source on Monday said that Sangma is aggrieved for the fact that his inputs were not taken and were totally ignored when the party made the arrangement for electing a new state president in Meghalaya. In protest, he skipped two key events of the party here recently raising eye brows among die hard congressmen. Later, talking to reporters he refused to give reasons for his conspicuous absence.
“In one way, he is right and an election should have been held for electing the MPCC president as there are only 80 voters but they made the arrangement without the knowledge and even without consulting him,” sources said.
The party sources said that if the grievances of Sangma are not addressed at the earliest, the party may even break up in Garo Hills as majority of the MLAs in Garo Hills and even the ex-MLAs are his men only.
“If all of them leave, we will get those candidates who are third or fourth rank candidates and party leaders like Deborah Marak may not be able to salvage the situation and we may even be wiped out of Garo Hills,” sources said while admitting that the AICC seems to have missed this aspect of the damage the party might sustain in Garo Hills if he indeed quits the party.
It was also informed that Sangma wanted the post of MPCC president either for himself or for his brother as in several states the convention is that the CLP leader and party president are the same person.
Sources however maintain that he should try to be happy now as all the MLAs in the party wanted a change and they have got a change in the form of Pala being appointed as the new president.
When asked if Mukul Sangma is planning to join BJP, sources could not confirm the move but did not rule out that Mukul Sangma now may float a new party in the state with the help of BJP and he may even poach into NPP.
It is speculated that if Mukul Sangma forms a new party, he would hope to bag 7-8 seats for BJP and with his own MLAs, he may make the effort of forming a new Government in 2023.
On the other hand, some senior Congress legislators who did not want to be quoted, tried to play it down saying that Mukul Sangma is trying to make a point that his consent to anything is to be considered before taking action.
“He is a senior Congressman and may need some time to adjust to this change. We will review after few months,” the leaders said
They felt that the party has to be patient because Sangma is a senior leader and has done a lot for the party and described him as an asset to the party. “We are praying that he will not take adverse action because he is the CLP and we all respect him so much,” the Congress leader said.
On the other hand, BJP leaders who are in the knowhow of things also confirmed that some dialogue is going on between BJP top level leaders and Mukul Sangma. Party is working on it, they said.
Another group of BJP leaders however expressed confidence that the saffron party may not take him in its fold as BJP leaders from Meghalaya have given certain inputs to party high command about the “working style” of the former chief minister.
BJP Meghalaya in-charge, M Chuba Ao refused to comment on the matter but said, “If there are Congress leaders who want to join our party, we welcome them.”
The new PCC chief Pala is expected to call on Sangma for a last ditch attempt at damage control.