Party politics is pragmatic if nothing else: if you don’t do what the party wants, you’re out … unless you’re Agatha Sangma.
She is the daughter of Purno Sangma, former speaker of India’s lower house of Parliament, who was forced to resign from the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) after refusing his boss’s order to withdraw his bid to become India’s next president. The NCP, a key ally of the Congress party, which rules India under Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in a coalition government, backs the Congress nominee for the post, ex-Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee.
Agatha Sangma, an NCP member and representative of the Tura constituency in the northeast Indian state of Meghalaya, is:
- India’s youngest member of parliament, elected in 2008 at the age of 27
- the youngest ever junior minister (state and rural development, 2009)
She invited the ire of her bosses when she announced her support of her father’s candidacy in public forums and accompanied him to meet the chief minister of the state of Tamil Nadu, J Jayalalithaa, to seek support for his presidential run. The poll is on July 19.
Her comment to reporters on why she supports her father instead of the party’s choice sounds like rhetoric. She said that it is time the country got a president from one of India’s “tribes.” Since her father’s name was proposed by a tribal forum, which included her, Agatha Sangma’s support should not be seen as coming from the government or the NCP.