Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) general secretary PA Sangma is in Delhi primarily to build support against the imposition of President’s Rule in Meghalaya. But his slew of meetings — those he held on Friday and those slated for Saturday — sent out clear signals about political options he was exploring.
Sangma met the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate LK Advani and Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Prakash Karat on Friday before calling on President Pratibha Patil. At night he hosted a dinner where the guests included BJP Rajya Sabha MP Chandan Mitra – who recently played a key role in the aborted seat negotiations between the BJP and the Biju Janata Dal – and Nephiu Rio, chief minister of Nagaland.
On Saturday, Sangma will meet Janata Dal (United) president Sharad Yadav and CPI general secretary A.B. Bardhan. “In case JD (S) president H.D. Deve Gowda is in town, I hope to meet him too,” Sangma told HT.
Registering his protest against what he termed as the unconstitutional imposition of President’s Rule in Meghalaya, Sangma told the President “we understand your constitutional limitations”.
Sangma said he met Advani to seek support for a non-Congress political alternative in the Northeast. “We’ll be holding a meeting in Guwahati on March 22 to decide a plan of action.”
Sangma said Advani had promised support to the new front being launched predominantly to take up the issue of President’s Rule in Meghalaya. The BJP, which had a minister in the state cabinet, is entertaining Sangma because smaller regional parties could prove invaluable if numbers are needed to form a government.
Sangma also met Karat on Friday. “We discussed the importance of preventing the misuse of Article 356 in general and of course, as was done with the Meghalaya assembly,” said Sangma.
Officially, Sangma ruled out a rift within the NCP or possible parting of ways. He, however, was did point out that “the party has no alliance with anyone at the national level and no one has any objections to any alliances formed by any NCP members at the state-level”.
The telling comment, however, came from a senior NCP leader who did not wish to be identified, “We are disappointed that we did not get the reaction and support that one could have normally expected from the parent party.”