Uncertainty in Meghalaya over government formation

March 8th, 2008 - 6:11 pm ICT by admin  

(Second Lead)

Shillong, March 8 (IANS) There was uncertainty over government formation in the northeastern state of Meghalaya as the Congress party and a hastily patched up coalition staked claims Saturday. In a dramatic turn of events, five opposition parties and two independents with a total support of 31 legislators formed the Meghalaya Progressive Alliance (MPA) with the president of the regional United Democratic Party (UDP) Donkupar Roy as its leader.

Roy was chosen the leader of the MPA at a meeting in Shillong earlier Saturday. The other members of the MPA include the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Hill State People’s Democratic Party (HSPDP), Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Khun Hynniewtrep National Awakening Movement (KHNAM) and two independents.

In the election to the 60-member legislature, results of which were announced Friday, the Congress emerged as the single largest party winning 25 seats, followed by the NCP with 14. The UDP bagged 11 seats, independents five, HSPDP two, and the BJP and the KHNAM one each.

Elections were countermanded in the Baghmara assembly constituency following the death of a candidate.

Led by Roy and party presidents of the other four partners, plus the two independent legislators, the MPA met Governor S.S. Sidhu at the Raj Bhawan Saturday afternoon and staked their claim to form the government.

“We have presented a list of all 31 legislators to the governor and staked our claim to form the government,” Roy told IANS.

Meanwhile, the Congress Legislature Party meeting Saturday elected former chief minister D.D. Lapang as its leader.

Three independents have already announced their support to the Congress party.

Lapang also went to the Raj Bhawan and staked his party’s claim to form the government.

“As the single largest party, the governor should invite us to form the government. We are in talks with like minded parties and are sure to form the government,” Lapang told IANS.

Congress party sources said negotiations were on with the UDP and independents, besides legislators of the HSPDP and KHNAM.

“There are lots of options available and we are confident of getting six more legislators to form the government,” another senior Congress leader said. In the last assembly, the UDP was a partner in the Congress-led Meghalaya Democratic Alliance government. There was, however, no pre-poll alliance between the Congress and the UDP.

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 the last assembly elections in 2003. There were only two occasions when a chief minister was able to complete its full five-year term since Meghalaya attained statehood in 1972.

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