By R.C. Ganjoo
Purno Agitok Sangma is a sure winner with a comfortable majority from Tura Lok Sabha constituency in a straight fight against Congress candidate Atul Sangma. Here polling is to be held on 20th April. Seeking re-election the eighth time, Sangma has decided to renounce politics when he attains the age of 57 and it would be his last inning in Indian politics.
“I am an absolutely contented man now and not after any post or power.” Always found in cheerful and happy mood, one thing disturbs: “That, a national party is projecting a person of foreign origin for the top post in the country.” In an exclusive interview to this journalist he said: “I have taken a strong position on foreign origin (Sonia Gandhi). Let that message be for the people of India to understand. Unfortunately people are not able to understand it.” Certainly Sangma´s eldest son, James will step into his shoes after his retirement. He will not join the Congress. He will be in regional politics and Sangma will be the guiding force for his son.
During his election campaign, Sangma has been convincing his workers why he joined Mamata Banerjee´s Trinamul National Congress. Obviously, the symbol crisis was the main issue before Sangma, after quitting Sharad Pawar´s Nationalist Congress Party. It has also been observed that Sangma used hightech for his election propaganda, to cover the far flung and inaccessible hilly areas of his constituency.
Sangma as Lok Sabha Speaker was the first to introduce live telecast of Parliament proceedings. His opponent Atul Sangma has been trying hard to upset Sangma by inviting national leaders of Congress party. The tribal leader P.A. Sangma has no star campaigner except his wife Soradini. Of the 4.50 lakh voters, 3.20 lakh are Garos, 20,000 Hindus, 50,000 Muslims and rest from other tribes. Last election, P.A. Sangma defeated Congress candidate S.C. Marak by a margin of 1.83 lakhs. Of course, this time he would also muster 30,000 votes of BJP, being the partner of NDA.
On the other hand, Meghalaya Congress Party is not comfortable. Former Chief Minister and MCP president, S.C. Marak is not so actively involved in electioneering. He cites ill health as the reason. Sources close to MCP say their candidate Atul Sangma, the sitting Works Minister was not their choice against P.A. Sangma.
P.A. Sangma´s three-year stint as Speaker of Lok Sabha (1996 to 1998) is considered to be a remarkable performance. He had thoroughly well familiarised himself with the functioning of the Speaker and procedure of the house, even when he was a member.
When Sagma was elected to Lok Sabha for the first time in 1977, there was a dramatic change in the country. Mrs Indira Gandhi had lost. At that time, C.M. Stephen, leader of the Opposition gave him the opportunity to participate in every debate in the house.
Frankly, he acknowledges the contribution of three persons who have shaped his career. They are Mrs Indira Gandhi, B.B. Lyndoh and N.N. Guha (senior advocate). He remembers their timely advice given to him. When Sangma met Indira Gandhi in 1974 with a delegation, she encouraged them, but told Sangma “If you want to be a success in politics, do not run after the post. Posts will run after you.” And it proved hundred per cent correct for Sangma.
N.N. Guha, senior advocate under whom Sangma began his practice as a lawyer, had told him that in order to be a good lawyer, “It is good to know the law, but it is always better to know the mind of the judge.” B.B. Lyndoh, former Chief Minister of Meghalaya, liked Sangma very much. When Sangma visited Shillong after becoming Union Minister in 1980, Lyndoh suggested to him to be a powerful administrator as well. To be a successful administrator he had to choose either of the categories of the bureaucracy. Lyndhoh termed one category of bureaucrats as ” sleeping angels” and second one as ” working devils”. Sangma opted for “working devils”, which helped him in running his administration in various positions.