No threat to government, says Meghalaya chief minister (Lead)

March 10th, 2009 - 7:16 pm ICT by IANS  

Shillong, March 10 (IANS) Meghalaya Chief Minister Donkupar Roy Tuesday said there was no threat to the stability of his Meghalaya Progressive Alliance (MPA) government after two independent lawmakers withdrew support, putting the 11-month-old fragile coalition in further trouble.
Independent legislators Limison Sangma and Ismail R. Marak withdrew support to the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP)-led MPA government Monday, reducing its strength in the 60-member legislature to 31.

The legislators have joined the opposition Congress, whose strength has now swelled from 27 to 29.

Technically speaking, the Congress now needs just one legislator to topple the MPA government.

“There is no threat to the stability of the government and we are still comfortably placed,” Chief Minister Donkupar Roy told IANS.

The two legislators withdrew support as they were angry over not getting ministerial berths.

“I was assured of a ministerial berth, but what I got was the post of parliamentary secretary,” Sangma said.

The two Independent legislators also aired their resentment against lack of development works in their constituencies in Meghalaya’s Garo Hills.

In the 60-member assembly, the MPA now has the support of 31 legislators - NCP (15), United Democratic Party (10), and six legislators from smaller regional parties, including one from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and two other independents.

The chances of survival of the fragile coalition look bleak.

Already there are rumours doing the rounds that at least two more legislators, including Urban Affairs Minister Paul Lyngdoh, might switch loyalties to the Congress.

“We are not going to engineer a collapse of the government. But at the same time if the situation demands and the numbers are with us, surely we shall have to act,” former chief minister and Congress leader D.D. Lapang said.

After the March 2008 assembly elections, Lapang was sworn in 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.

Political instability is the hallmark of 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.

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

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