Monday, July 15, 2024

Agatha blown away by anti-BJP wind


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TURA/SHILLONG, June 4: The Indian National Congress’ (INC) Saleng Sangma has won the Tura seat by a landslide finally breaching the once impregnable bastion of Purno Agitok Sangma and his family in what may come as a surprise win for many but was on expected lines by those in the know.
Saleng defeated three-time MP from Tura, Agatha Sangma by a margin of 1,55,241 votes with AITC’s Zenith M Sangma coming a distant third and Labenn Ch Marak (Independent) simply making up the numbers.
The last time something of this sort took place was after the death of late PA Sangma, when riding on a wave of sympathy, Conrad Sangma swept through for the biggest margin in the history of Garo Hills. He had won with a margin of 1,92,212 votes.
The Tura parliamentary seat has been with (L) PA Sangma and his family since 1975 (barring a two-year absence) with none being able to match or even come close to wresting the seat from them. However, this time, the tables have turned and how? The NPP has literally been decimated by the INC and its candidate in a similar manner in which it had crushed opponents for close to half a century.
The margin of victory is the second biggest after Conrad’s landslide win following the demise of his father, PA Sangma in 2016.
The Congress had last won the Tura seat in the 1998 general elections when PA Sangma contested from the party. He was expelled from the Congress in 1999, ending the grand old party’s dominance in Tura.
Agatha’s defeat and the Congress resurgence came in the backdrop of many things.
Sample this: Of the 24 constituencies in Garo Hills, Saleng won in 22 while only Ampati and Mahendraganj went to the NPP. Both seats from the town of Tura (North and South Tura) were won by the Congress – a body blow when it comes to the fact that the two constituencies are represented by Chief Minister Conrad A Sangma (South Tura) and Assembly Speaker Thomas A Sangma (North Tura).
What is even more interesting is that Garo Hills has 18 MLAs of the NPP, most of whom had won the Assembly elections in 2023 by huge margins. Just going by last year’s numbers, the TMC should have been the next in line for the seat, however in the past one year, things had taken a drastic change and instead of the TMC, the Congress was seen as the more stable alternative.
So this begs the biggest question, how did the NPP lose a seat where it has never even dreamt of losing?
To begin with, the BJP’s announcement of the party supporting the NPP and not fielding any candidates from both seats of Meghalaya, in many ways, was the start of the many problems for Agatha. This literally opened a Pandora’s Box with goodies for the Congress and the TMC. While the TMC could not capitalize on what was given, Saleng and the INC by extension were able to capitalize on what happened.
The BJP in Meghalaya has never been able to make headway into the state and this has continued with the MP elections as distrustful voters (on religious grounds) did not want the BJP to make further inroads into the state. Saleng became the poster boy for the movement and the gains are now visible.
Further the BJP not declaring a party candidate for the two seats and then supporting the NPP openly made things worse for the NPP as many BJP workers and supporters felt the move worked against the work they had been doing for the party. With the local NPP also being distrustful of the BJP, it became a matter of when one section would break.
People’s Movement: Many factors have contributed to what is now being attributed as a people’s movement for change. The above mentioned factors are major parts of it.
Like the VPP’s landslide victory in Khasi-Jaintia Hills, in Garo Hills, a thought of getting the MP changed had been doing the rounds especially with the perceived conception that Agatha was not really doing much for the region. This led to people thinking of who would be best for the change and Saleng once again became the benefactor.
The Congress bandwagon began to use the BJP’s aversion to other communities to the hilt resulting in most, who were nearly over the fence, actually crossing it and voting en-masse for the Congress.


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