The sole remaining Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MLA in Meghalaya, Saleng Sangma, today resigned and rejoined the Congress Party years after leaving the fold following tensions with then Congress leader Dr Mukul Sangma.
The Gambegre legislator is a three-time MLA, having first won on a Congress ticket in 2008 from the then Dalamgiri constituency (which since disappeared following delimitation before 2013). In 2013 he ran as an independent from the new Gambegre seat and then joined the NCP in 2018.
Dr Sangma led the Congress for several years until defecting to the Trinamool Congress (TMC) in late 2021.
According to Saleng, he never left the Congress but was kicked out by Dr Sangma 10 years ago.
“The person who kicked me out is no longer with the Congress. He was a coward and couldn’t stick with the Congress and joined TMC,” Saleng said.
The MLA, who recently got into trouble for using unparliamentary language in the Assembly, said that he had contemplated joining the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) but had backed away given how based in Hindutva the party is and how that contrasts with the Christian-majority Meghalaya.
As the sole NCP legislator in the outgoing Assembly, Saleng was on the government benches but resented the fact that he was not rewarded for that loyalty. “I was on the [MDA] bus but never got a seat and was hanging in the back,” he said.
Asked why he remained quiet, especially with several allegations levelled against the government, Saleng said that people voted for the government it got, so the people should face the consequences.
“It was the people’s choice. There is a saying in the Bible that you reap what you sow,” he said.
Meanwhile, Congress media coordinator Matthew Anthony said that a lot of propaganda of the BJP and its alliance partners dwells on a “fake” narrative of development. He called it fake because the public can never see concrete examples of this development.
“Congress is getting a lot of support from the public because they are feeling the pulse and the heat from the people itself. That they are not in alignment with the current government and they want a change and that is where we are coming with a lot of reassurance that we are winning this confidently with an absolute majority,” Anthony said.
Meghalaya Pradesh Congress Committee president and Shillong MP Vincent Pala also welcomed Saleng into the fold, calling him one of the brightest politicians.
Corroborating the claims of Saleng being chased out of the party, Pala said that he was with the party from the Youth Congress, adding that Saleng worked very hard on the ground those days but some people saw him as a threat and took him out of the party.