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Meghalaya to create new political history
Correspondent SHILLONG, MAY 27:
Published on 28 May. 2009 1:41 AM IST
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Meghalaya is on the verge of creating political history on Thursday, when the two newly elected Lok Sabha members - Agatha K Sangma and Vincent H Pala from this hill state will be inducted in the Union cabinet. The induction of these two young Turks in the new Manmohan Singh’s ministry have raised many eyebrows among the rank and file of the Congress in the event of senior Congress Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha members from Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Manipur did not figure in the list of council of ministers. Two-time Lok Sabha member from Tura constituency Agatha K Sangma and Vincent H Pala of the Congress, a political novice would be sworn-in as Ministers of State along with 59 other MPs tomorrow in New Delhi. “The new list of council of ministers has surprised me and other senior Congress leaders from the region,” a dejected Congress leader on condition of anonymity said over the phone from Manipur. Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi had pressed for three Cabinet berths and even suggested Biren Singh Engti, Paban Singh Ghatowar and Bhubaneswar Kalita. However, Prime Minister had only elevated Bijoy Krishna Handique to a rank of Cabinet minister. The Congress leader felt former Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh Chief Ministers Rishang Keishing and Mukut Mithi, presently Rajya Sabha members should have been rewarded with ministerial berths for their loyalty and galvanizing the party in their respective states. “We are disciplined soldiers of the Congress and we will have to accept it, but nonetheless the party high command would surely work out something for them in the interest of the party,” he said. Agatha is the youngest daughter of former Lok Sabha Speaker and NCP General Secretary PA Sangma and won the Lok Sabha elections from Tura Parliamentary seat. She retained her Tura seat with a slender victory margin of 17, 945 votes over her Congress rival Deborah C Marak. Sources said, Purno had bargained hard in New Delhi with his party chief Sharad Pawar for a ministerial berth for his youngest daughter. However, Agatha denied and said, “It’s not true that my father (PA Sangma) lobbied for my induction in the Cabinet. In fact, Sharad Pawar wanted a NCP representative in the Cabinet from the northeast.” On the other hand, the induction of Vincent Pala in the Cabinet has not been without a favorable nudge from his political bosses here in Meghalaya. The business tycoon has always been the Congress favorite “fund raiser” in Meghalaya and therefore has the blessings of Chief Minister DD Lapang and former Union Minister PR Kyndiah. Sources added, after talks of Agatha’s induction in the Cabinet was on,Lapang who is also the Chairman of North East Congress Committee rushed to 10 Janpath and lobbied for Mr Pala to counterbalance PA Sangma’s move and simultaneously curb his influence in state politics. “There are no seniors and juniors in politics. I submitted my bio-data and was later interviewed by Sonia Gandhi and got the post,” Pala said. Meanwhile, both the would-be ministers of state asserted that their induction was great news for the people of northeast and added they would not fail the people’s aspiration as Union Ministers.

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