Donkupar Roy sworn-in new Meghalaya chief minister

March 19th, 2008 - 10:57 pm ICT by admin  

(Second Lead)

Shillong, March 19 (IANS) A seven-member coalition government headed by top regional party leader Donkupar Roy, backed by the Nationalist Congress party (NCP), assumed office in Meghalaya Wednesday after the Congress failed to muster the required strength in the 60-member state assembly. The 54-year-old Roy, who is president of the United Democratic Party (UDP), was sworn-in the chief minister of the Meghalaya Progressive Alliance (MPA) coalition by state Governor S.S. Sidhu at a ceremony at the Raj Bhawan here late in the evening.

Six other ministers took the oath, representing the NCP, smaller regional parties and independents.

Apart from 14 members from the NCP and 11 from the UDP, the MPA alliance has a total strength of 31 with two members from the Hill State People’s Democratic Party (HSPDP), and one each from the Khun Hynniewtrep National Awakening Movement and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The alliance has two independent members in its fold.

NCP leader and former Lok Sabha Speaker P.A. Sangma told IANS that as part of a power-sharing agreement between his party and the UDP, Roy will hold the post of chief minister for the first half of the term after which the post will go to the NCP.

“Our alliance is invincible and our power sharing deal stands. This is a combine that is here to stay and work for the masses in Meghalaya,” Sangma said after the swearing-in.

The Congress, Sangma said, has admitted defeat and has also withdrawn its candidate for the speaker of the assembly. “Our candidate will be elected uncontested on Thursday,” Sangma said.

Earlier, Congress veteran D.D. Lapang resigned as the chief minister ahead of the scheduled trust vote, having failed to secure the majority support. Lapang’s 10-day stint as chief minister was the shortest by any political leader in the state.

“The MPA is a solid alliance and we shall strive to work ceaselessly for the overall progress and development in Meghalaya and its people,” Roy said after the swearing-in.

The Congress emerged as the largest single party, bagging 25 seats and enlisted the support of three independent members.

Still, the party fell short of three members. Lapang’s attempts to woo members of some of the MPA constituents failed, leading to his resignation before the trial of strength in the assembly.

It was Sangma’s masterstroke of quickly stitching together an alliance with all regional parties and entering into a power sharing deal, giving up his claim to chief minister’s post for the first half of the term, that halted what looked like a smooth sailing for the Congress.

Sangma has quit his Lok Sabha seat after forging the MPA alliance and has declared that he will not return to national politics and concentrate in Meghalaya’s development and progress.

“Our claim that we are a united lot that cannot be lured by the Congress’ money power has been vindicated today,” Sangma said.

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