Gearing up to contest the 2023 state assembly elections, Meghalaya Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) president Vincent H Pala said he took the decision to find a solution to the “escalating poverty” in the coal belt of East Jaintia Hills.
Pala is the Member of Parliament from Shillong Lok Sabha Constituency. The Congress is banking on Pala’s clout in the Meghalaya elections and has asked him to leave Delhi and focus solely on the state.
Pala, who is expected to contest from the Sutnga-Saipung constituency, said he has come across families who are unable to even repair their dilapidated houses.
The MPCC chief said, during his door-to-door visits, he realised that people living in the coal belt areas have lost trust in politics.
Slamming the National People’s Party (NPP)-led Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) government, Pala said the people of Meghalaya are in favour of legal mining of coal, but the government is “intentionally delaying” it.
“Instead of making laws or giving proposals to Delhi to amend the law, the government is sitting on it. They don’t want scientific mining; they don’t want legal mining. They want to continue with illegal ways for their personal benefits,” he said, adding that scientific mining will bring lots of benefits to the people, but the government wants to “reserve” these benefits only for certain sections of society.
“Poverty will stay unless the government takes the initiative to develop policies where livelihood can be protected and poverty minimised. I was very happy to be an MP, but I decided to contest the assembly polls because I have seen people’s suffering. It’s my duty to help and protect them,” he said, adding, “I have been working at the centre for so many years.”
Asked about the campaign, Pala said, “We are forming the unit at the different blocks and polling stations. We are in the process of designing the campaign. Whenever we visit any village, people are happy to see us. They have started to campaign amongst themselves too.”
Pala said several leaders within the Congress are willing to contest Lok Sabha election from this prestigious seat.