Meghalaya fears Rio may pip Sangma to Modi team

SHILLONG: Purno A'gitok Sangma, who won the Tura Lok Sabha seat for a record 11th time, may get a berth in the Prime Minster-elect, Narendra Modi's cabinet.

The veteran leader from the northeast and former Lok Sabha speaker has won this year's LS election on a National People's Party (NPP) ticket. NPP has formed an alliance with the BJP-led NDA.

In fact, Sangma, whose candidature for the last presidential election was supported by NDA, was prompt enough to meet Modi in Gujarat soon after the Lok Sabha polls. "We feel a senior politician like Sangma, with a strong political acumen, would be a rightful candidate to find a berth in the new government at the Centre," a senior political analyst here said.

"However, Neiphiu Rio, who won the LS polls and resigned from the CM's post, is almost certain to get a berth in the new government. This will virtually throw Sangma out of the race," he pointed out.

Moreover, political observers emphasized that after the ruling Congress and Asom Gana Parishad got a drubbing in the hands of BJP in Assam from where seven party candidates were elected to Parliament, the new government at the Centre should have a "substantial representation" from the most "politically powerful" state in the northeast.

Sangma, had earlier occupied several important ministerial positions at the Centre and was also the chief minister of Meghalaya for a brief period when he was a senior member of Congress. Later, he was expelled along with Sharad Pawar and Tariq Anwar after revolting against Sonia Gandhi's foreign origin. He is also one of the founder members of NCP, from which he later resigned to join the Trinamul Congress, which too he had left.

Nevertheless, the witty politician, who is back into national politics after a gap of almost seven years, has made it clear that a ministerial post at the Centre was not on his priority list. "I don't aspire for any position. It is the prerogative of the PM. I prefer to go back to Parliament so that problems of Meghalaya and the Garo Hills can be resolved," he quipped when asked about his possible prospects.