Governor holds key to government formation in Meghalaya

March 8th, 2008 - 8:54 pm ICT by admin  

(Roundup)

Shillong, March 8 (IANS) Amid uncertainty over government formation in the northeastern state of Meghalaya with the Congress and a hastily patched up coalition staking claims Saturday, the focus shifted to Governor S.S. Sidhu. The governor was said to be holding consultations with legal experts on the claims made by both combinations. Sources said he was likely to take a decision either later Saturday or Sunday.

The Congress party and a hurriedly formed alliance, named the Meghalaya Progressive Alliance (MPA), Saturday staked claim to form the next government.

In a dramatic turn of events, five opposition political parties and two independents with a total support of 31 legislators in the 60-member house formed the MPA with the president of the regional United Democratic Party (UDP) Donkupar Roy as its leader.

Roy was chosen leader of the MPA at a meeting in Shillong earlier Saturday. The other partners of the MPA are the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Hill State People’s Democratic Party (HSPDP), Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Khun Hynniewtrep National Awakening Movement (KHNAM), plus two independents.

In the elections results announced Friday, the Congress emerged as the single largest party winning 25 seats, followed by the NCP with 14. The regional UDP bagged 11 seats, independents five, the HSPDP two, and the BJP and the KHNAM one each.

Elections were countermanded in the Baghmara assembly constituency following the death of a candidate.

Roy and party presidents of the other four partners, plus the two independent legislators, met the governor at Raj Bhawan Saturday afternoon and staked claim to form the government.

“We have presented a list of all the 31 legislators to the governor and staked claim to form the government,” Roy told IANS.

Meanwhile, the Congress Legislature Party meeting Saturday elected former chief minister D.D. Lapang as its leader.

Three independents have already announced their support to the Congress.

Lapang also went to the Raj Bhawan and staked claim to form the government.

“As the single largest party, the governor should invite us to form the government. We are in negotiation with like minded parties and are sure to get the adequate numbers and form the government,” Lapang told IANS.

Congress sources said talks were on with the UDP and independents, besides legislators of the HSPDP and KHNAM.

“There are lots of options available and we are confident of getting six more legislators to form the government,” another senior Congress leader said.

In the last assembly, the UDP was a partner in the Congress-led Meghalaya Democratic Alliance government. There was, however, no pre-poll alliance this time between the Congress and the UDP.

Political instability is the hallmark in Meghalaya - the state has seen six different governments with varied combinations of political parties, resulting in four chief ministers in a span of five years between 1998 and 2003 when the earlier assembly elections were held.

There were only two occasions when a chief minister was able to complete a full five-year term since Meghalaya attained statehood in 1972.

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