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Meghalaya poll: Militants call for bandh ahead of PM's rally
K Anurag in Guwahati | February 27, 2008 12:29 IST
The banned Hynnewtrap A'Chik Liberation Council, a banned militant group in Meghalaya, on Wednesday called for a day-long statewide bandh to protest Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's [Images] visit to Shilling to address an election rally of Congress party.
Dr Singh is scheduled to address the party's election rally at the Polo Ground in Shillong on Wednesday afternoon.
Official sources in Shillong said that the bandh called by the HNLC, which launched an armed revolution demanding a 'separate homeland' for the Khasi tribe in Meghalaya, has affected road services to Shillong from Guwahati and other parts of Assam.
The bandh has also affected business establishments in the state capital Shillong. So far, there has been no report of any untoward incidents because of the bandh. Security has been tightened in and around Shillong in view of the bandh call while a round-the-clock vigil is being kept at the venue of the election rally for the last few days.
A Congress party source in Shillong said that Dr Singh will address the public rally at Shillong as scheduled despite the bandh called by the HNLC. The Prime Minister will fly in to Shillong in after addressing another election rally in Kohima.
A battery of senior All India Congress Committee leaders is camping in both Meghalaya and Nagaland supervising the party's electioneering before Dr Singh's visit. Congress president Sonia Gandhi [Images] had already addressed two well-attended election rallies at Jowai and Tura in Meghalaya on February 23.
The overwhelming presence of people in Sonia's rallies has enthused the party's poll campaigners in the hill state.
Election to the 60-member Meghalaya Assembly will be held on March 3, while polls in Nagaland are scheduled for March 5.
In Meghalaya, the Congress is fighting the electoral battle against its arch rival the Nationalist Congress Party led by veteran Purno A Sangma, the former Lok Sabha Speaker, who has bid adieu to the national politics to 'serve' his home state.
With Sangma leading the NCP poll battle as its chief ministerial candidate, the ruling Congress is facing a stiff challenge, especially in Sangma fiefdom in Garo hills, which he represented ten times in Lok Sabha. The Congress in Meghalaya is fighting the election without projecting anyone as its chief ministerial candidate.
In Nagaland, where the Assembly election is being held under President's Rule, the Congress is sniffing power with the regional Nagaland People's Front, led by the former chief minister Neiphu Rio, going to polls without many of its senior leaders who had shifted allegiance to the Congress due to their growing differences with Rio.
The NPF which is nurturing a grudge against the Congress for the imposition of President's Rule in January, is attacking the Congress as anti-people in the run up to elections for masterminding imposing of the Central Rule in the hill state.