Sonia Gandhi rules out leadership change in Meghalaya (Lead)

July 8th, 2011 - 11:57 pm ICT by IANS  

Sonia Gandhi Shillong, Jul 8 (IANS) Putting an end to the month-long political impasse in Meghalaya, Congress president Sonia Gandhi Friday asked Mukul Sangma to continue as chief minister, ruling out any change of guard in the state, a Congress leader said.

“The leadership have directed the chief minister to continue till the end of term and that there will be no change of leadership in that State,” party in-charge of Meghalaya Sanjay Bapna told IANS on phone from New Delhi.

The Congress president’s decision came after a meeting between Sangma and his political rival D.D.Lapang at her 10, Janpath residence in New Delhi Friday evening.

Congress leaders Oscar Fernandes, Ahmed Patel and Congress general secretary in-charge of Meghalaya Dhani Ram Shandil besides Meghalaya’s former public health engineering minister Prestone Tynsong attended the meeting.

The meeting came on the day that four rebel Congress legislators threatened to resign from the assembly if Sangma was not removed.

Asked how the party would deal with the rebel legislators, Bapna said: “All these problems will be resolved amicably.”

Sangma, meanwhile, said that he would follow the advice of the party leadership and continue to focus on development in the interest of the state.

He added: “I will convey madam’s (Sonia) message to my party legislators that we should focus on development in the best interest of the people of the state.”

The four rebel legislators are Frankenstein W. Momin, Augustine D. Marak, Sayeedullah Nongrum and Samuel Sangma.

“We have submitted a letter to the Congress president expressing our desire to resign from the membership of the assembly over the leadership issue,” Momin told IANS.

“We haven’t decided when to put in our papers, it will be done at an appropriate time if the (leadership) issue is not resolved,” he said, airing their unhappiness with the chief minister’s “autocratic style of functioning”.

In his bid to quell the rebellion, Sangma June 7 sacked four ministers - Tynsong, Momin, Marak and Founder Strong Cajee - who have demanded his ouster.

The Congress, which has 28 legislators, enjoys the support of nine United Democratic Party (UDP) members. The Nationalist Congress Party, the main opposition, has 15 members in the 60-seat assembly.

Meghalaya has seen nine governments with varied combinations, resulting in eight chief ministers between 1998 and 2009. Since Meghalaya attained statehood in 1972, only two chief ministers have completed a full five-year term.

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