The Tura constituency in Meghalaya has been an impregnable bastion of 'Mr Clean' of Indian politics -- Purno A Sangma irrespective of his switching parties for decades. And, he will be registering eighth consecutive win this time, if a major upset is not in store in the constituency.
As a Nationalist Congress Party leader, he had defeated his nearest rival Atul C Marak of Congress by a huge margin of 1,13,579 votes in a 5-cornered contest. He polled 1,82,883 votes, which, however, was much lower than his 1998 tally of 2,19,720 votes when he fought on a Congress ticket.
In 1998, he drubbed Anilla D Shira of BJP by a margin of 17,7,659 votes while in 1996 he defeated Enila Shira of BJP by 18,4,790 votes. He defeated an independent Irwin K Sangma by 94,377 votes in 1991. In 1989 Sanford Marak of Congress defeated Lamberth K Sangma (independent) by 60,878 votes.
Most of the observers are sure of his victory this time but many of them expect a further dip in his victory margin this time, particularly in view of his quitting the Nationalist Congress Party and the symbol war he is embroiled in. It would also be a test of his anti-Sonia 'hate campaign'.
Most of his victories in the past can be attributed to his personality and charisma of the former Speaker. For decades, his political base has been the Tura seat in Meghalaya. Being a Garo tribal, winning Tura has not been difficult at all for him, whatever his politcal affiliation.
He was anonymous with Congress for over two decades. But the clock symbol got him 63% vote in 1999, reducing the official Congress nominee to a humble 23%.
Actually, it was the Tura from where it all began. He entered politics in 1977 as Congress candidate from Tura which was a Congress borough then. Seven victories later, it's now Sangma's backyard.
However, Congress is leaving no stone unturned and is said to have launched a whispering campaign about Sangma's alleged amassing of wealth and his acquiring of properties disproportionate to his known sources of income. Marak said Sangma's massive house in Tura which resembles a five-star hotel,was estimated to be a Rs. 5.5 crore construction.
The Tura Lok Sabha constituency, comprising West Garo Hills (WGH), East Garo Hills (EGH) and South Garo Hills (SGH), has more than 4,40,000 voters. More than 100,000 non-Garo voters - Hajong, Cooch and Muslims - are mainly spread over West Garo Hills.