More Congress leaders should defect to the National People’s Party, Deputy Chief Minister and NPP vice-president Prestone Tynsong has urged.
Tynsong, who himself quit the Congress prior to the 2018 state election, said this while drumming up support at an election rally for Pyniaid Sing Syiem, the NPP candidate for the Mawryngkneng by-election.
Several Congress figures have already jumped ship ahead of the by-polls, with the party alleging that their support was bought by the NPP and others.
Tynsong said that the NPP is a recognised national party and it was a matter of pride that such a political outfit should be led by a Meghalayan, that is, Chief Minister Conrad Sangma.
“I feel sorry for [ex-CM] Dr Mukul Sangma and [Shillong MP] Vincent H Pala (of the Congress) who had sought appointment with Sonia Gandhi but could not meet her,” Tynsong told the gathering.
He added that if the duo join the NPP, he and Sangma will themselves go to their respective homes to try to solve whatever differences that exist.
Meanwhile, Tynsong also attacked the Congress over apparent inaction over the Sweepers Lane issue while it was in power.
The Deputy Chief Minister, who is the chairman of the high-level committee set up to sort out the issue, was responding to charges made by the Congress that Sangma and Tynsong were playing politics with the issue. The HLC had recently recommended the relocation of the Sweepers Lane residents, a key demand of a large section of the indigenous population.
“I tell you, if we win or lose (the by-elections) the NPP will not back down. It is the MDA government which has taken this decision (to relocate residents),” he said.
On the decades-long boundary row with Assam, Tynsong said that he had been a Congress representative since 2003 but that the party had never discussed the border dispute seriously with Assam.
However, the MDA government, led by the NPP, is determined to solve the issue so that residents living in the border areas can live peacefully.
Tynsong also pointed out that the Executive Committee of the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC) will soon come up with a land bill that will protect the rights of the indigenous people.
However, the Deputy CM alleged that the opposition Congress was trying to obstruct the passage of the bill.
According to Tynsong, the land bill will bestow rights upon the tribals over lands according to their traditions.
“Go and ask the Congress what has it done and what it will do (for the indigenous people). You (Congress) are only speaking sweet words and are happy to throw mud at others when you know you can’t do anything on your own,” he added caustically.