With the election to the 60-seat Meghalaya assembly slated on February 23, News18 spoke exclusively with leader of opposition and former chief minister Mukul Sangma who was confident that Trinamool Congress (TMC) alone will get majority when asked about post-poll tie-up with Congress.
Sangma urged people to join TMC and said they will see the change in Meghalaya. “TMC is the only alternative for the people of Meghalaya… Mamata Banerjee is our motivator and there will be change in Meghalaya,” he said.
The TMC leader, who has said his party will scrap the border agreement with Meghalaya and Assam that was signed recently if voted to power, told News18 that people do not accept the survey report, and the state faces alienation since the time it was created.
Edited excerpts from interview:
Q: Now, that the manifesto has been released, what’s your feeling now?
A: We are on ground ever since we started reaching out to people to see that people connect with TMC in Meghalaya. In the last few months, people from all corners have come together to support us. We are thankful to them. We are geared up and looking forward to this battle. People don’t want present dispensation and people are looking for new. There is a palpable desire in people of Meghalaya to change and we are confident.
Q: Chief Minister Conrad Sangma said TMC is an outsider party… What do you have to say on that?
A: It’s a reflection of the fact that they (National People’s Party) are running out of issues because they are in a defensive mode. Overall, political dynamics has unfolded after five years of lack of governance. They understand that TMC is the only alternative in Meghalaya. In the entire state, the other political dispensation is on one side and TMC alone is on the other side. Whoever wants change will be gravitating towards TMC. It is now threat to all other political parties in Meghalaya. That’s why they are saying all this. In a civilised world, we do not reduce ourselves to racism. Tell me which political party, apart from regional parties, hails from Meghalaya? Which political parties are from Meghalaya? Congress, BJP, NPP? So, what are they talking? This is disgusting.
Q: Conrad Sangma has also said your beneficiary scheme will lead Meghalaya into a debt trap?
A: Present dispensation already leading this state towards debt. We have done research and we have worked how we will improve the wealth. We aimed for double-digit growth. We are completely focussed on welfare growth. We are talking about empowerment for youth and families.
Q: Who is the real opposition in Meghalaya? Congress is saying that you are dividing opposition’s votes?
A: You saw the 2018 assembly elections. This government takes people for a ride. Every time during elections, the present dispensation shows they are not together. They go to people and say they are not together but after elections they together form the government. They fool people that’s why we say that we are the actual alternative. Was BJP not part of this dispensation then? Congress allowed their five members to join the BJP. How can they allow it? That’s the ground reality. That’s why people looking for a change with TMC.
Q: You have said in your speech that everybody should come together. Will TMC take the help of Congress after results?
A: Every responsible citizen who decides to be in politics has a reason. But when they know that the party they are following has its own agenda then they go for the one, which really has the capability to fight. People should come out and be part and parcel of our big TMC family. We need more people to come out and support (us). Meghalaya gives fractured mandate but we have to be united. After statehood, people gave absolute majority because at that time everybody was united.
Q: Why do you want to the revoke border agreement?
A: After the creation of state, there was demarcation, and alienation. There were disputes over ownership of land from pre-Independence. The survey that was conducted at that time was not accepted by people. Therefore, we have to see areas of difference, we have to sit and talk. This time, there was no consultation, everything was done in a fast mode. This is not done! It’s our responsibility to take cognisance of everyone. It’s a binding responsibility on us.
Q: How confident are you this time? What advice has Mamata Banerjee given to you?
A: We are very confident that there is thirst for change. We need to see how we navigate now. Mamata Banerjee is our motivator and inspiration. The last five years of governance is horrible and the state is in complete lawlessness.
Q: Will you take Congress’ support after results?
A: We will get absolute majority. People will also come together like the first time to change the government.
Read all the Latest Politics News here