Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma on Monday “warned” the Trinamool Congress that it was “investing” in the State in vain as most of its leaders would abandon the party after the Assembly election. The polls are scheduled to be held on February 27.
He continued the tradition set by his father, the late P.A. Sangma and launched the campaign of the National People’s Party (NPP) from Adokgre in North Garo Hills district.
Mr. Sangma told his West Bengal counterpart Mamata Banerjee that the Trinamool congress was as much of a “ bohiragato (outsider)” in Meghalaya, as she had called a “national party” in her State.
Ms. Banerjee had called the Bharatiya Janata Party an “outsider” party ahead of the 2021 West Bengal elections. The BJP is a minor ally of the NPP in Meghalaya.
“I respect Madam Mamata Banerjee because she respected my father. But it is my duty to inform her the market is abuzz with predictions that most of the Trinamool leaders who joined from different political parties are planning to leave the Trinamool. In fact, they are already in touch with different political parties,” Mr. Sangma told a large gathering at the Chenanggre Stadium.
Chenanggre is the unofficial name of Adokgre coined by P.A. Sangma. The word means “land of victory” in the Garo language.
The Trinamool became the principal opposition party in Meghalaya overnight when 12 of the 17 Congress MLAs crossed over to the party November 2021. Four of them quit the party before the Meghalaya elections were declared and are contesting from other parties.
Mr. Sangma said the NPP has every right to call the Trinamool a “ bohiragato” party when “you [Ms. Banerjee] can call a national party a bunch of outsiders in West Bengal”.
The Chief Minister, also the national president of NPP, admitted that the Trinamool is his party’s main rival in the Garo Hills comprising 24 of the State’s 60 seats. Six of the eight remaining Trinamool legislators are from the Garo Hills.
“The Trinamool is our main rival in the Garo Hills but we don’t see it giving much of a fight in the Khasi and Jaintia Hills (straddling 36 seats) where our Opposition is a mixed bag. The Trinamool appears stronger than the other Opposition parties but whether it can put up a fight, even in the Garo Hills, depends on the constituency,” he said.
The Trinamool is hoping to win the polls riding on its twin promises of the “WE (women empowerment) Card” and the “MYE (Meghalaya Youth Empowerment) Card”. The party has promised monthly financial assistance of ₹1,000 to one woman in every family under the women empowerment vard and create 3 lakh jobs with the Meghalaya Youth Empowerment Card.
Mr. Sangma said these cards are a promise for the Trinamool but the NPP has already implemented FOCUS and FOCUS+ where farmers are given financial assistance to upscale the production and marketing of their produce.
Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong and senior NPP leader sought votes in the name of P.A. Sangma, the party’s founder.
“P.A. Sangma left a footprint. I pledge this footprint will continue. Let’s give all 24 seats in the Garo Hills to the NPP. Please don’t let him (PA Sangma) down. He will bless us, Garo Hills and Meghalaya from heaven,” he said, adding that Meghalaya is known to the world because of the legendary leader.
Adokgre, close to Meghalaya’s boundary with Assam, falls within the Kharkutta Assembly constituency represented by Rupert Momin of the NPP.