“It has been a great journey so far”

By Ayon Sengupta

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The “baby of the house” gets taken out to coffee by the likes of L.K. Advani and other stalwarts of the Parliament. She also lives in mortal fear of having said something untoward or incendiary during her countless election rallies in the past few days. “We all do mistakes and regret later. I am very tired, campaigning rigorously for the past 10 days but still I have to give an interview today.
I am saying a lot of things which I shouldn’t be and inevitably I will wake up tomorrow morning and cry out ‘Oh! My god. What I have done’,” NCP candidate Agatha Sangma says, with a tinge of mischief as she finally makes some time to call us back one early morning.

Our repeated efforts to reach her earlier throughout the week had fall flat, and we had almost given up all hopes to catch the youngest member of the 14th Lok Sabha.

Her brief stint at the Lok Sabha has been a memorable one and Agatha says: “The whole process of campaigning for the last election and even this time round is like extended socialising for me.

My constituency has a very intimate feel, giving you the chance for more one-on-one interaction with the people. It has been a great journey for me so far.”

Her first day at office is still imprinted on her memory and Agatha recalls: “Wearing our traditional dress, dakmanda, I took my oath in Hindi. It was my own way of silently supporting Indian integration. And the whole house thumped in applause. My dad was present in the gallery and later he told me that he had never seen such a scene in the parliament and it was the proudest day of his life. The remark made me grow a few inches taller.”

Agatha’s gesture takes a greater dimension as the 27-year-old environmental lawyer is well aware of the friction between the Indian state and its North-Eastern subsidiaries. “”It’s very obvious for the people of my region to feel alienated because of both physical and cultural differences.

The North-East is also economically far behind the rest of the country and that adds to the resentment,” she says. “There should be a wholehearted capacity building programme to uplift the economy in the region. That will solve a lot of these problems including insurgency. We have been ignored enough.”

Educated, intelligent like many other young politicians in the fray, Agatha has set herself certain goals. “Vision is a very big word and I can’t describe in a sentence. But I want India to follow a path of sustainable development. Countries like the U.S. have exploited the nature to the hilt to fulfil short term goals. We shouldn’t fall prey to that,” she says about her broader vision for the country.

“We should concentrate on renewable energy and try building small-scale industries based on community development. It’s a competitive world but I don’t think India should opt for mass based production system like China.”

Laying stress on education, she adds: “Education does and should play a big role in everybody’s life. And politicians are no different. Leaders should have a wholesome knowledge of national, international and local issues.”

Agatha has won over a few friends in her short stint and wants to hit back to Delhi soon to continue her work. “I attended only 20 days of the Assembly and didn’t get many opportunities to interact with other members. But I have developed a close bond with the likes of Milind Deora, Dipendra Hooda and also Suresh Prabhu.

Suresh has immense knowledge about renewable energy and environmental issues and that common ground sort of helped us to forge good understanding,” she says. “I hope to renew these rapports once I go back and build more bridges. I have always been called the kid of the House and thankfully everybody gave me that extra concession and kept me out of all the so-called dirty politics. I had a very pleasant experience and that makes me more hungry to go back there and make a difference this time round.”

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