Many vie for lone Rajya Sabha seat in Meghalaya

SHILLONG: With a vacant Rajya Sabha seat from Meghalaya caused by the resignation of NCP's Thomas Sangma on February 4 last, a dozen aspirants are eyeing the lone seat from the state. The by-election to the seat will be held on April 18 next as notified by the Election Commission (EC) on Monday.

Sangma, who was elected to the Rajya Sabha on an NCP ticket resigned from the upper house and unsuccessfully contested the Meghalaya assembly polls from the North Tura seat on a ticket from Purno Sangma's NPP to avoid disqualification.

As Sangma's tenure was to end in April, 2014, the new MP will have only one year in office but since Congress has a sizeable strength in the assembly, the MP may continue for the next term. Considering the Congress' majority status, the seat is most likely to go to the ruling party.

However, abundance of Congress candidates from Khasi-Jaintia and Garo Hills has made the task daunting for chief minister Mukul Sangma and MPCC president D D Lapang.

The aspirants range from leftouts to defeated ones trying to revive their political career, party sources said. Even leaders from different walks of life have joined the fray.

The aspirants include former RS member OL Nongtdu, National Commission for Women member Wansuk Syiem, Minority Commission member Oris Myriaw, MPCC vice-president PW Mukhtieh and MPCC general secretary Polycarp Marak.

Former speaker Charles Pyngrope, former minister Manas Chaudhuri, former legislator Adolf Lu Hitler, DGP B K Dey Sawian and a prominent journalist are also in the fray, party sources said. But the Congress candidate can also be someone out of the list.

The last date of filing nomination is April 8 while the last date for withdrawal is April 11. Counting of votes will be done on the day of polling after 5 pm and the whole electoral process will be completed by April 22.

There are indications that the chief minister, buoyed by his success, might go for a Garo leader to fill the vacancy since the Rajya Sabha seat was rendered vacant due to the premature resignation of Thomas Sangma, who is also from Garo Hills.

The Meghalaya seat normally rotates between the two dominant ethnic groups Khasi-Jaintia and Garo. The new member in all likelihood will also get a full term, especially if he or she is from the Khasi hills.