Riya Sangma

GUWAHATI:

The aggression of Trinamool Congress (TMC) will lead to more influx from Bangladesh to Meghalaya, according to candidate for 10-Jirang constituency, Riya Sangma.

“I am not talking about the prospects of Jirang, but of entire Meghalaya. If the TMC comes to power, it will lead to more influx from Bangladesh to the state,” Sangma said in an informal chat with The Meghalayan on February 15.

Amid suspicion of BJP’s agenda in the Christian-majority state, Riya believes that the influx issue will be resolved if the saffron party comes to the power.

Meghalaya shares a 443-km border with Bangladesh. Dawki-Tamabil is one of the few roads between India and Bangladesh in West Jaintia Hills district. Not only influx but many illegal activities have been going on through this road.

“The previous governments have done nothing to stop influx into the state. Only BJP can stop it,” Riya said.

When pointed out that it was Mukul Sangma who had passed the stringent “Meghalaya Residents Safety and Security Act 2016” to protect the state from illegal migrants taking shelter, Riya said: “It is only on paper. It is not implemented.”

There are eight candidates in the fray from Jirang constituency, but Riya feels it is time for the BJP to win the seat.

“People have tasted Congress and NPP. They are now waiting for BJP. Yes, some old-generation voters will vote for Congress. But young generation voters are with us,” she said.

“Our Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the inspiration for many young generation people. They are inspired by his development agenda. They want the development of the state. People are getting benefits from his schemes,” she also said.

Riya, who is the state secretary of Meghalaya Pradesh BJP Mahila Morcha, joined the saffron party in 2016.

“NPP candidate Sosthenes Sohtun will be my nearest rival, neither Congress nor TMC. But I will win,” she said.

“TMC is a new party. They have no base in the state. The people are not accepting them. But Congress has some traditional vote bank. Jirang is also an NPP bastion because they won the seat in the last election. Anyway, this time we are confident to win,” she further said.

“People believe that NPP is the B team of BJP. They have been projecting the BJP ideology in the past years. So people are now approaching A team – BJP- why they will choose the B team? B team has many limitations,” Riya said.

“Conrad K Sangma is a dynamic leader. But he failed due to inexperience. The regional parties have limitations. They are unable to resolve the issues. They have to depend on the Centre for every matter. We need a national party to redress our grievances,” Riya also said.

As regard to border agreement, she said: “It is not proper time to comment on this. There were three places in my constituency, where people went for massive protests. There were protests in Jimri Gaon, Maikhuli and Khanapara over the agreement. The people do not accept the agreement. But the sitting NPP MLA was silent at that time. He did not visit the areas also.”

“I think the border issue can be resolved if the BJP comes to power in Meghalaya. The same party is in power in Assam. It will be easier for us to take up the issues,” she said.

“But we should avoid such disputes over our boundaries. We should maintain seven sister spirit,” she said.

Rejecting that the BJP is “anti-Christian”, Riya said: “It is only opposition propaganda. The opposition is silent on the development agenda of the BJP. But before the elections, they raised this issue. I want more and more Christians should come and join the BJP and take part in the national building process.”

She did not want to comment on the “inner line permit” demand by a section of the student organisations and political parties to safeguard the people from outsiders.

If elected, Riya will work for the development of the infrastructure of the constituency. “I will work for water supply, road connectivity, education and women’s empowerment in my areas,” she added.

“Thousands of people in the hill areas are living without electricity and water connection. Most of them are wage earners. The students have to walk up to 15 kms for school. There is no proper road, no college, no hospital. The people have no other option but to depend on Assam for everything they need. My target is to resolve all these basic issues first,” she added.