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AITC meets in Tura over poll preparations

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Biplab Kr Dey

Tura, Mar 14: Following the announcement of Zenith Sangma as the party candidate for the upcoming MP elections, the AITC, led by former CM, Mukul Sangma held a meeting in its party offices this afternoon in the town of Tura.

The meeting was also attended by the Dadenggre MLA, Rupa Marak besides the candidate himself and saw more than 600 party workers from all 5 districts of Garo Hills come together to decide on strategies for the upcoming polls.

The Tura seat is expected to be fought between at least 5 candidates with sitting MP Agatha Sangma (NPP), Saleng Sangma (Congress), Zenith, Labenn Ch Marak (Independent) and another BJP candidate.

Zenith confirmed that campaign strategies would be worked out in another day or so following which the AITC will jump head on into wooing voters to win the seat.

“People, across party lines have expressed their support to our candidate and it is with this thought in mind, we decided to do everything we can to represent the people of Garo Hills. A federal structure in our country means that central and state development schemes are actually implemented by the state and with the NPP ruling the state, an NPP MP will never take corruption or malafide implementation head on,” said Mukul during an interview after the meeting.

He referred to various schemes from the centre including the much vaunted Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) whose implementation has caused a lot of consternation in the region.

“The people of Garo Hills need accountability from their MP on the implementation of various central and state schemes. Agatha will not go against her own party in seeking these answers. That is where we come in. We will take these head on to ensure development reaches the people of the state,” he added.

On the decision of the Congress, Mukul said there was disappointment at the party level on the Congress providing a candidate.

“We are aware of there being several meetings between the leaders of both the Congress and AITC as part of the INDIA Bloc. Both parties are major members and we were really disappointed. Their decision is far removed from reality. We secured over 2 lakh votes in the last Assembly election whereas they lagged far behind. People can read behind the lines and understand what is going on. We are sure that the mandate will be for us,” felt Mukul.

He added that the intention of the INC to take on the current dispensation (NDA) at the Centre was not sincere and questionable.

One of the principal issues which he said was impacting the livelihoods of the people of the state as well as had international ramifications was the smuggling racket of betel nuts and other products into and from Bangladesh.

“Who is facilitating this? How can it happen? Are there no authorities who are taking cognizance of these acts and responding to their call of duty as envisioned in the Constitution? Any instance of smuggling across the international border is a matter of serious concern to national security. You cannot rule out arms and ammunition coming into the state through this channel which was not acted on by those in authority,” asserted Mukul.

He further referred to IED blasts that have been taking place on a regular basis in the state capital as part and parcel of what was taking place across the international border.

“Every year since 2020, the state has seen at least one IED blast in the state capital. The alarming situation is being brought about by the facilitation of smuggling through the Indo- Bangla border. The centre has to be alarmed at what is happening here. We have had so many reports of contraband being seized by security forces. Further the quantum of contraband and substance abuse cases have also gone up rapidly over the past few years. This is a direct impact of allowing smuggling to run free through our state,” stated the former CM.

On the issue of CAA, Mukul said that the entire NE had risen in one voice against the CAB (when it was in its Bill stage) and CAA when it became an act.

“Its implementation has been forced on us. Everyone should remember that the Tura MP, Agatha Sangma, voted for the Bill against the wishes of the people of not only Garo Hills but of the region. That is not how democracy works as the MP is the voice of the will of the people she represents. She acted completely against the will of the people of Garo Hills and this cannot be forgotten,” added Mukul.

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