Hop-skip-and-jump politics in Meghalaya at its best

May 9th, 2009 - 1:39 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party By Syed Zarir Hussain
Shillong, May 9 (IANS) Meghalaya is all set for a third government in just 14 months, a situation characteristic of the mountainous northeastern state known for hop-skip-and-jump politics with legislators switching loyalties at the drop of a hat.

After the union cabinet late Friday recommended revocation of president’s rule in Meghalaya, the stage is now all set for a Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) coalition government in the hill state.

“It is now almost clear that there would be a Congress-led government in Meghalaya with the support of the NCP,” Congress leader D.D. Lapang, who is tipped to be the chief minister, told IANS.

Under the deal, Lapang would head the government, while NCP leader P.A. Sangma’s son Conrad would be the deputy chief minister.

“Modalities of the power sharing deal are being worked out and should be fine,” a senior NCP leader said.

President’s rule was imposed March 19 following mounting political uncertainty after five legislators supporting the ruling Meghalaya Progressive Alliance (MPA) announced their decision to back the Congress, which was then in opposition in the state.

The NCP was the major partner in the ruling MPA in Meghalaya and was then a bitter critic of the Congress.

In the 60-member assembly, the Congress has 27 legislators, followed by the NCP with 15.

After the March 2008 assembly elections, Lapang was sworn-in as chief minister of a Congress-led coalition government although he resigned 10 days later ahead of a scheduled trust vote, having failed to muster majority support.

Soon after, the NCP managed a deal with United Democratic Party (UDP) leader Donkupar Roy and formed the MPA-led government in March last year.

The other partners of the MPA were the Hill State People’s Democratic Party, besides smaller regional allies and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

With loyalties changing in 14 months, Speaker Bindo Lanong issued show cause notices to Sangma and his two sons James and Conrad, both legislators, for switching allegiance from the MPA and supporting the Congress.

“In Meghalaya everything is possible. You are with one party at lunch, have dinner with a different party and are with a third party for breakfast. That is why there is so much instability in the state,” said A. Lyngdoh, a tribal community leader.

Political instability is the hallmark of Meghalaya - the state has seen nine different governments with varied combinations of political parties, resulting in eight chief ministers between 1998 and 2009.

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

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