Congress MP, Vincent H Pala says he did not blow his trumpet

Shillong, Mar 22: Congress MP from Shillong, Vincent H. Pala on Friday filed his nomination papers as candidate for the Lok Sabha elections to be held on April 11.

Rajya Sabha MP, Wansuk Syiem, state Congress president, Celestine Lyngdoh, legislators and other party leaders accompanied Pala.

Speaking to reporters, Pala said that he had raised a number of issues in Parliament concerning the state.

“I have taken up several issues in Parliament and I admit that I cannot satisfy or meet the expectations. But the problem with me is that, whatever I have done, I did not publicize or blow my own trumpet,” he said.

According to PRS Legislative Research which detailed the performances of MPs in Parliament for the current term from 2014 to 2019, Pala had participated in 32 debates on matters related to Meghalaya and other issues, asked 264 questions, brought four private member bills and his attendance in Parliament’s session was 92 per cent.

Pala said that he had taken up issues related to Sixth Schedule amendment, coal issue and amendment of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, inter-state and international border, opening of more border haats, influx and employment, problems at NEIGHRIMS.

“On the Sixth Schedule amendment, I have taken up in the last three years and brought a private member bill also in Parliament. I have been pursuing with the Centre and writing letters on coal issue. The previous government also had passed a resolution requesting the Centre to invoke Para 12(a)(b) of the sixth schedule to exempt the state from Central laws related to mining,” Pala said.

He said that present state government also repeated the resolution passed by the previous government, but the Centre did not do anything till today.

Asked about his initiatives and achievements in the last ten years, Pala said that he has taken a number of initiatives, and along with the party, and the government, various projects came to the state including the four-lane road from Jorabat to Umïam which has helped reducing congestion on the Shillong-Guwahati road, the Shillong-Nongstoiñ-Rongjeng-Tura road which helped people to move between Khasi Hills and Garo Hills without going via Assam, besides sanctions for other road projects, setting up of regional passport office in Shillong which was earlier in Guwahati, initiative to expand the Umroi airport and make it functional, the need to create the Meghalaya High Court among others.

“When I first got elected in 2009, the airport did not function. As an MP, I took up with the Centre, along with the party and the government, we worked as a team and collectively pushed for creating infrastructure in the state,” he said.

Pala however regretted that because of the land tenure system, implementation of projects in the state was slow unlike in other states.

“There are projects that took many years to start due to land problem,” he said.

Through his MP scheme, Pala said that churches and different organisations could also start colleges in different areas in the last 10 years through his initiative, party and the government.

“I am sure that team work with officers of the government, we have done fair enough in 10 years – five years in ruling, and five years in opposition,” he said.

On the claim of the UDP candidate, Jemino Mawthoh that the vote share of the Congress has decreased, Pala said, “We don’t go by the vote share. Sometime you may get 48 percent but you may lose. Whether the vote shares decrease or increase is not an indication of the party’s decrease or increase, but how you win that is most important.”

Pala also said that the power is not with him, but with the voters.

Mawthoh is supported by partners of the MDA government.

Asked about the threat, Pala said, “all candidates are the same, and it is too early to say who is a threat because we have just filed our nomination and started our campaign. Once we go to the public, we make them understand about our policy, what have we done and the public will compare.”

Pala also refused to comment on criticisms made by his opponent that Congress MPs who represented Shillong for many years had done nothing during the tenure.

“I don’t want to counter to whatever unreasonable charges they make because the public know that opposition is an opposition. They know how to talk but they forget how much they have done for the public,” he said.

The two-time Congress MP from Shillong said that if elected, he would further push for empowering the youth with skills by providing them training through assistance from financial institutions like the ADB, improve connectivity, employment and education.

Pala also said that the Congress president Rahul Gandhi has also promised that the minimum income guarantee scheme would be launched if the Congress comes to power.

“We have launched the NREGS which provided employment to villagers and we also will try to see that all poor people be provided minimum guarantee income and help them get atleast reasonable livelihood,” Pala said.

On influx issue and the stand against the Citizenship Amendment Bill, Pala said, “as indigenous people, we want to exist. To ensure there is no CAB, the only way is no BJP.”

The Congress MP expressed hope that Congress would return to power at the Centre.

“The BJP has lost control of UP, MP, Rajasthan, Punjab, Chattisgarh, and in the South, their allies are running away from them be it, in Andhra Pradesh and other parts of the country. I think Congress should cross 160 this time.”