‘People of Meghalaya want a new govt’: Mukul Sangma
Mukul Sangma’s party, the Trinamool Congress (TMC), announced its first list of candidates for the February 2023 Meghalaya Assembly polls on Friday
Meghalaya’s former chief minister and now leader of the Opposition in the Assembly, Dr Mukul Sangma has said that the poll-bound state may once again witness a coalition government. On Friday, his party, the Trinamool Congress (TMC), announced its first list of candidates for the February 2023 Meghalaya Assembly polls.
Edited excepts from an interview:
How strong is the possibility of the TMC winning a significant number of seats in 2023?
We will form the government in 2023. I am saying this with utmost sense of responsibility and because of my in-depth understanding of Meghalaya politics and my connect with the people. People want a change desperately.
What are the reasons for the demand for a change?
It is a complex situation. Lack of development and alleged irregularities in implementation of flagship programmes of the government of India, including time and cost overrun, have affected the larger interests of the state and the people. Also, there was complete insensitivity on the part of the state government towards aspirations of the people, particularly on the issue of unemployment. They have blatantly deprived the youth of their rights. Thousands of vacancies resulting from retirement and death of employees have not been filed up although recruitment notices were put up. All initiatives taken up by the preceding government have gone down the drain.
Are there other issues?
There is a sense of insecurity among certain vulnerable groups that have not been addressed. When I talk of vulnerable groups, please try and understand the cosmopolitan character of the population, especially in the state Capital. There have been small incidents that were allowed to flare up, leading to a sense of mistrust. These could have been nipped in the bud. People living along the Assam-Meghalaya border are also vulnerable. The firing at Mukroh is just one incident. If you go to these areas, people will tell you they want a new government. Their message is loud and clear.
While talking of forming a government, do you look at a coalition?
Meghalaya has always been a victim of fractured mandate. That’s why it is the responsibility of every party to ensure that people give us a clear mandate. It will make people see the advantage of a clear mandate in the post-election scenario. Fractured mandates have done substantial damage to our state.It is an irony that the BJP, which is now in the government, says the home minister, who is from the UDP, should resign. The UDP says the BJP should look at law and order in the states ruled by them. The Cabinet is not ready to take a collective responsibility.
What is the role of the TMC in the current scenario?
In the prevailing scenario, all parties are with the government. The only party in the Opposition camp is the TMC. I have every reason to believe that when we reach out to the people they will connect to the reality.
The TMC is viewed as a Bengal-based party. How do you think it can fare well in Meghalaya which has a sizeable tribal population?
Point out any national party that represents all regions. Take the BJP for example.(Prime Minister) Modi Ji does not speak Khasi or Garo. He is neither from North-East nor from West Bengal. The Congress president is from Karnataka. The first president of the Congress was a Bengali. There is an evolution in every party. The TMC is not an exception. I am happy that the TMC has leaders from all regions. A party has to create a balanced eco-system so that there is no unipolar concentration of power which may lead to an autocratic government. That is dangerous for democracy. When that happens, people are not allowed to speak against the government. It is already visible.
Mamata Banerjee talks of you very affectionately. Will she campaign for you?
Let me not connect to her as our national chairperson. She is Didi (elder sister). I had the privilege of being at many programmes that Bengal hosted. She treated us like members of her family. I don’t want to belittle our men comrades but I think women, when given responsibility of governance, can show a higher level of love and compassion. She is like a mother or sister to everyone.
The TMC has been trying to expand in other states. Why do you think It has been able to reach out to more people in the North-East?
There is a reason. For all states in the North-East, our nearest destination beyond this region was always Kolkata. whether it is for higher education or any other purpose. In the past, all flights from here landed in Kolkata. We always felt at home in Kolkata. I have seen people from Shillong going to Kolkata to celebrate Christmas. This should not be seen in a political perspective but politicians must understand this.