Political rivals join hands in Meghalaya for new government

May 12th, 2009 - 6:08 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party Shillong, May 12 (IANS) In tune with the typical characteristic of shifting combinations in Meghalaya politics, the Congress party and its main rival, the United Democratic Party (UDP) Tuesday announced they would form a coalition government - the third government in just 14 months.
“The UDP and the Congress together met Governor R.S. Mooshahary and staked claim to form the government. The swearing in ceremony is likely to take place Wednesday around 11 a.m.,” UDP leader and former chief minister Donkupar Roy told journalists after emerging from the Raj Bhawan in capital Shillong.

After the central cabinet Friday recommended revocation of President’s rule in Meghalaya, it was almost finalised that the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) would form a coalition government. Under the deal, Congress leader D.D. Lapang would become the chief minister, while NCP leader P.A. Sangma’s son Conrad would be the deputy chief minister.

But things took a dramatic turn with the UDP offering to team up with the Congress to form a government.

“We decided to join hands with the Congress for the greater interest of stability and good governance,” Roy said. President’s rule was imposed March 19 following mounting political uncertainty after five legislators supporting the ruling Meghalaya Progressive Alliance (MPA) headed by Roy withdrew their support and announced their decision to back the Congress party.

“According to the arrangement, UDP leader and former speaker Bindo Lanong would be the deputy chief minister,” Roy said.

In the 60 member assembly, the Congress has 27 legislators, followed by the NCP with 15 and the UDP 10. After the March 2008 assembly elections, Lapang was sworn-in as chief minister of a Congress-led coalition government although he resigned ten days later ahead of a scheduled trust vote, having failed to muster majority support.

Soon after, the NCP managed a deal with the UDP and formed the MPA government in March last year, the second government in 10 days.

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

Political instability is the hallmark in Meghalaya - the state has seen nine different governments with varied combinations of political parties, resulting in eight chief ministers between 1998 and 2009. There have been just two occasions when a chief minister was able to complete a full five-year term since Meghalaya attained statehood in 1972.

“One really does not know how long the new combination would survive as switching loyalties by legislators is possible within hours,” said A. Lyngdoh, a tribal community leader.

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