Shillong: Four legislators in the 60-member Meghalaya Assembly abstained from voting in Monday’s presidential election, an election official said.
Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), Frederick Roy Kharkongor said Health and Family Welfare Minister James Sangma, the elder brother of Chief Minister Conrad Sangma and Tourism Minister Sniawbhalang Dhar from the National People’s Party (NPP) and opposition Trinamool Congress (TMC) legislators Marthon Sangma and Shitlang Pale were amongst those who could not cast their vote.
“We were told that James is out of station and Sniawbhalang has just recovered from a spinal surgery, while Marthon is down with Covid-19 infection and Shitlang could not make it since he was stuck in his constituency. These are the versions that we got from their respective political parties but not in writing,” Kharkongor told UNI over phone.
He said that the presidential election concluded with the participation of 56 legislator and the lone Rajya Sabha member from Meghalaya Dr. Wanwei Roy Kharlukhi casted their votes while Shillong and Tura MPs, Vincent Pala (Congress) and Agatha Sangma (NPP) respectively cast their votes in the Parliament
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Conrad Sangma voiced confidence that the NDA candidate Draupadi would easily sail through and win the election
“If she is elected there would be a lot of expectation from her on issues relating to the tribals around the country and also those of women would get renewed focus,” Conrad said.
Conrad, who is also the youngest son of late Purno Agitok Sangma said that the former Lok Sabha Speaker always dreamt about a tribal holding the top constitutional post of the country.
The NPP-led Meghalaya Democratic Alliance government is an ally of the NDA government which has nominated Draupadi Murmu as the Presidential candidate. Murmu if elected would be the first tribal and only the second woman to hold the top post.
Late Purno Agitok Sangma contested for the top constitutional post and campaigned aggressively. He wanted a tribal to hold the post, but unfortunately he was not successful in fulfilling that dream.
The former Lok Sabha Speaker fought the 2012 Presidential elections after his candidature was proposed by BJD, AIADMK and backed by the BJP. He however, lost to Pranab Mukherjee who was the UPA’s candidate.
“Although he (Purno AgitokSangma) knew it was a great challenge, he went ahead and took up the challenge. So what he did at that time laid the foundation for this day to happen,” the CM said recalling his father’s campaign for the Presidential post.
In fact, Purno Agitok Sangma was the second tribal leader from Meghalaya who unsuccessfully contested the presidential election after the late George Gilbert Swell.
Backed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and National Front in the 1992 presidential election, Swell lost to Congress’ Shankar Dayal Sharma, securing only 346,485 votes against his opponent’s 675,864 votes.
Swell, a tribal Khasi from eastern Meghalaya, had been deputy speaker of Lok Sabha from December 9, 1969 to December 27, 1970 and again from March 27, 1971 to January 18, 1977.