Leader of Opposition and former Chief Minister Mukul Sangma along with 11 other Congress MLAs on Thursday formally joined the All India Trinamool Congress also known as TMC to fight against “divisive forces” in the country.
They blamed the Congress’ ineffectiveness as the main reason for their decision to merge with the TMC, which according to them is a strong pan India alternative to the people of the state and the nation as a whole.
This also came one year ahead of the 2023 Assembly polls. The Congress, which initially won 21 seats in 2018, is now reduced to only 5 in the 60-member House.
All the twelve MLAs also appeared today before the Assembly Speaker Metbah Lyngdoh, who assured that he would examine the letter submitted by them on Wednesday.
Terming it as a momentous occasion for the state of Meghalaya, Mukul Sangma said by merging with the TMC, they are setting a new trend for the future of the state, of the region and of the nation.
“It (joining TMC) is a culmination of a long drawn exercise which is directed towards a political party which shares the same objective of fighting against the divisive forces which have become stronger and stronger,” he added.
He also asked if there is any political party which is fighting hard against the forces that threaten “our very existence, cohesive and inclusive character of our democracy” and alleged that the National People’s Party (NPP)-led government in Meghalaya was installed by the BJP.
“NPP is part of the team…it is amazing that they sometimes speak against each other but aren’t they the same?. We have to be determined, we have to take our political opponent head on and that is what people expect, we can’t just have lip service,” he said.
Stating that the electorate is not inclined to vote for the BJP in Meghalaya, Mukul Sangma however said that the saffron party is operating through its B-team, the regional parties.
“Therefore, they (BJP) are smart, they have created regional parties as their B-Team and they are effectively, very efficiently operating through this modus operandi,” he added.
When asked, the former Chief Minister said that the decision to merge with the TMC was due to Congress’ failure to respond to the call of duty as an opposition.
“The pulse of the people today say yes there is a need for a strong pan India alternative as a political party. And this is based on the perception that the Indian National Congress (INC) is failing to really respond to its call of duty as the main opposition in the country.
Therefore, our exercise to find a viable pan India option to take care of the state of the region and to take care of the entire nation ultimately culminates into this decision,” he stated.
Mukul Sangma said that they did an exhaustive study and explored the options available within the Congress. “But I am sorry to say that in spite of all our efforts and endeavor, it seems to be elusive and there is a reason for us to believe that we are failing in our duty, in our responsibility towards the people of the state and the nation in as far as our role as opposition.
In our democracy, there has to be equilibrium while we are in opposition, we must play the role of an opposition effectively, so that we can take head on with the party in power in the event of any situation where we feel that the concerns of the people are not being addressed, the interest of the people are being compromised, sustainability of our democracy are under threat,” he said.
He continued, “In as far as Indian National Congress (INC) is concerned, we have tried our best to prevail upon the leadership. You have seen how many times we have made our trips, we keep on making trips after trips to Delhi which should have been the other way round. Inspite of that, we have failed to prevail upon the leadership. (Therefore), we have looked at the available space that is available before us to play the role of the opposition and also to play the role of an effective opposition to ultimately seek the mandate of the people to have the helm of affairs in our hands.”
To another question, Mukul Sangma said that one cannot compare NPP with the TMC as “the whole objective, the whole ideology that this political party is affiliated with is completely different from the NPP and other political parties.
The TMC is fighting against those who nurture an ideology which is not compatible with our nation with diverse backgrounds of people and is not compatible with the socio-political spectrum that this nation has.
Therefore, we have a very clear understanding as to why we have align ourselves with TMC. “
The former Congress leader further informed that the TMC will go beyond the boundaries of Meghalaya and will expand in the North East region even as he expressed confidence that the TMC will be accepted by the people of Meghalaya and the region as a whole.
The 12 MLAs include all the eight MLAs from Garo Hills and four from Khasi-Jaintia Hills.
Apart from Mukul Sangma, the other MLAs from Garo Hills are Zenith M Sangma (Rangsakona), Dikkanchi D Shira (Mahendraganj), Miani D Shira (Ampati), Winnerson D Sangma (Salmanpara), Marthon D Sangma (Mendipathar), Jimmy D Sangma (Tikrikilla) and Lazarus Sangma (Chokpot).
From Khasi-Jaintia Hills region, those who quit the Congress include Charles Pyngrope (Nongthymmai), George B Lyngdoh (Umroi), Himalaya Shangpliang (Mawsynram) and Shitlang Pale (Sutnga Saipung).