To force contest, Sangma quits NCP


DETERMINED to contest against UPA nominee Pranab Mukherjee in the presidential election next month, former Lok Sabha Speaker P A Sangma resigned from the primary membership of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) on Wednesday. With the AIADMK and the BJD propping his candidature and the BJP likely to support him, it was untenable for Sangma, one of the founder members of the NCP, to continue in the party which has firmly backed Mukherjee's nomination.

NCP chief Sharad Pawar said Sangma's resignation was accepted "with immediate effect". As Sangma is a member of the Meghalaya Assembly, the party has decided to inform the Meghalaya Assembly Speaker about his resignation. Sangma's resignation came a day before the meeting of NCP office-bearers to discuss the presidential poll.

Asked if Sangma's resignation would have any bearing on his daughter Agatha's continuation as Union Minister of State, NCP general secretary D P Tripathi said, "The question is irrelevant. She has not resigned. She has not said anything against the party."

While the NCP was preparing to take disciplinary action against Sangma if he did not withdraw from the race, sources said that soon after getting the support of the AIADMK and the BJD, the former Lok Sabha Speaker had informed the party leadership that he would quit the party if he went on to contest the presidential election.

Sangma sent his resignation letter to the NCP chief shortly after meeting Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy who was said to have pledged support for his candidature. "I hereby tender my resignation from the primary membership of NCP with immediate effect. I place on record my deep gratitude to the president, other office bearers and rank and file of NCP for the courtesies extended to me by them at a personal level while I was a member of the party," Sangma stated in his resignation letter.

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