PA Sangma, who broke away with the NCP last year to contest the presidential elections, though unsuccessfully, on Saturday launched National People's Party (NPP), and chosen a book as its symbol. Sangma has chosen to align his party with the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
Launching the NPP at the "national level", Sangma said it has been active for long as a recognised party from Manipur. The former Lok Sabha Speaker, who is the president of the party, said his daughter Agatha, MP from Tura, Meghalaya, will be "in NCP for the time being on technical grounds".
However, Sangma sounded confident that "Agatha will fight the next elections as an NPP candidate." Agatha had to resign as Union minister on her party NCP's directions after she campaigned for her father PA Sangma in the July presidential elections in defiance of the party.
Stating that the party's faith that only literacy and education can empower the weaker sections is the reason behind choosing a book as the electoral symbol, Sangma said his party will would contest the upcoming Meghalaya assembly elections for which it is ready with the names of 33 candidates.
Sangma, who unsuccessfully contested the presidential elections last year as a candidate of the Tribal Forum of India, said his party will give due importance to tribal and women issues. "Though the party is meant for all and its membership is open for everyone, it is going to be tribal centric," said Sangma, while announcing that former Union minister Arvind Netam would be the working president of the party.
Sangma said the party will focus at the beginning in tribal areas of several states, including Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, North Bengal and the northeast.
On the issue of women's safety, the NPP said it favours death penalty or life imprisonment with chemical castration for rapists and demanded that such cases be tried in fast track courts. On the corruption issue, NPP supported a strong Lokpal bill and "total independence" of CBI and CVC.
Meanwhile, BJP has hailed Sangma's decision to align the newly- formed NPP part of the NDA fold. "Sangma had met NDA working chairperson LK Advani on Friday and expressed his desire to join the alliance. Today, his party conveyed the formal decision to join the NDA," BJP chief spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said.
Sangma called Advani on the phone today to inform him about the NPP's decision. Welcoming Sangma's decision, Prasad hailed the decision saying, "NPP becoming a part of the NDA will strengthen the coalition, particularly in the northeast."