Political crisis in Meghalaya, MPA government may collapse

March 10th, 2009 - 11:40 am ICT by IANS  

Shillong, March 10 (IANS) The ruling Meghalaya Progressive Alliance (MPA) government may collapse after two independent lawmakers withdrew support to the 11-month-old fragile coalition, reducing its strength in the 60-member legislature to 31.
Independent legislators Limison Sangma and Ismail R. Marak withdrew support to the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP)-led MPA government Monday, putting the hotchpotch coalition under threat. Support to the oppositon Congress has now swelled from 27 to 29 with the two legislators switching camps.

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 cited lack of development works in their constituencies in Meghalaya’s Garo Hills as reasons for their displeasure against the MPA government.

In the 60 member house, the MPA now have 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.

With just two legislators required by the Congress party to form a new government, the chances of survival of the fragile coalition look bleak.

Already there are talks 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 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.

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 full five-year term since Meghalaya attained statehood in 1972.

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