Sangma to challenge imposition of president’s rule in Meghalaya

March 18th, 2009 - 5:54 pm ICT by IANS  

P. Chidambaram By Syed Zarir Hussain
Shillong, March 18 (IANS) The central government’s decision to impose president’s rule in Meghalaya Wednesday has come under fire from the ruling Meghalaya Progressive Alliance (MPA) government with former Lok Sabha speaker and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Purno A. Sangma threatening to challenge the decision in the Supreme Court.

“The decision to impose president’s rule is unprecedented and unconstitutional. After the MPA government won the trust vote on the floor of the house, there was no constitutional crisis and hence the decision is very sad,” Sangma told IANS.

“We shall challenge the decision in the Supreme Court Thursday.”

“It is nothing but a murder of democracy by the Congress,” Chief Minister Donkupar Roy said.

Earlier Home Minister P. Chidambaram announced the central government’s decision in Delhi.

“The cabinet received a report from the (Meghalaya) governor on the events yesterday (Tuesday, during the trust vote). He has stated that there’s a breakdown in the constitutional machinery and has recommended president’s rule. The report has been accepted and a recommendation made to the president,” the home minister said.

The Congress welcomed the decision saying the trust vote Tuesday conducted by Speaker Bindo Lanong was farcical.

“The speaker of the house simply ignored constitutional norms by suspending five legislators and barring them from voting in the floor test. We welcome the decision imposing president’s rule,” former chief minister and Congress leader D.D. Lapang said.

The floor test Tuesday was marred by a blazing controversy after the speaker placed five legislators under interim suspension for withdrawing support to the MPA. After the speaker ordered a vote to decide the fate of the government, 27 legislators each voted for and against the government after which Lanong cast his ballot to declare the MPA government had won the trial of strength by one vote.

The five legislators - former ministers Advisor Pariong and Paul Lyngdoh, deputy speaker Sanbar Shullai, and two independent lawmakers Ismail Marak and Limison Sangma - were barred from entering the house until further orders by the speaker.

But the Congress legislators led by Lapang trooped to the Raj Bhawan and met Governor R.S. Mooshahary seeking imposition of president’s rule and paraded 31 legislators before him - a fact that the governor took note of and recommended president’s rule.

Meghalaya is known for the hop-skip-and-jump politics with legislators switching loyalties at the drop of a hat.

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 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.

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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