Tug of war in Meghalaya over government formation

March 9th, 2008 - 3:31 pm ICT by admin  

Shillong, March 9 (IANS) The political situation in Meghalaya continued to be hazy Sunday with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and its ally as well as the Congress staking their respective claims to form the new government, leaving the ball in the court of Governor S.S. Sidhu. The swearing in of the newly elected legislators is slated for Monday, but it is still not clear as to when the new government will be formed.

Governor Sidhu has sought legal opinion on the course of action he could follow.

The NCP has struck a power sharing deal with the regional United Democratic Party (UDP) to form a combine, named the Meghalaya Progressive Alliance (MPA).

Both the Congress, which has emerged as the single largest party in the 60-member state legislature with 25 seats, and the NCP-UDP combine, claiming the support of 31 members, have staked claim to form the new government.

“We are the largest single party with 25 members. The governor is bound morally and constitutionally to invite us to form the government,” outgoing chief minister D.D. Lapang, unanimously elected the Congress Legislature Party leader earlier, said.

NCP leader and former Lok Sabha speaker P.A. Sangma, however, came up with sort of a masterstroke, halting what looked like a smooth sailing for the Congress. He struck a power sharing deal with the UDP and the two parties have managed to bring in all elected members belonging to regional parties and two independents into their fold.

“The NCP will not enter into any alliance with the Congress to form the government. We shall support the UDP in forming the new government and have all the regional party MLAs and enough independents in our grouping,” Sangma said.

Although the NCP has won 14 seats and the UDP only 11, Sangma has offered the chief ministership to UDP president Donkupar Roy. That has acted as a clincher in forging the MPA.

“We have reached an agreement. For the first two-and-a-half years, the post of chief minister will be held by the UDP. For the remaining term, it will go to the NCP,” Sangma said.

Lack of a clear verdict has been part of Meghalaya’s electoral history. Even, the latest power sharing deal is not without precedence in the hill state with a plethora of regional political parties in the arena.

Apart from 14 from the NCP and 11 of the UDP, the MPA alliance has with it two members from the Hill State People’s Democratic Party (HSPDP), and one each from the Khun Hynnieutrip National Awakening Movement and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The alliance has two independent members too.

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