By K I John
With the term of the current house expiring on the 6th March 2018, the resignation of eight Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs) in the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly could have a drastic effect on the existing balance maintained by the ruling Congress party. The eight MLAs, including five from the ruling party, resigned from the state assembly on Friday, to join the National People’s Party (NPP), a constituent of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
Who resigned and why
The legislators who put in their papers were Sniawbhalang Dhar, Comingone Ymbon, Prestone Tynsong, former deputy chief minister Rowell Lyngdoh and Ngaitlang Dhar of Congress, Remington Pyngrope from the United Democratic Party (UDP) and Independents Stephanson Mukhim and Hopeful Bamon.
The Congress legislators had, prior to their resignation, rebelled against the Chief Minister as well as the party leadership. Of the five Congress MLAs who resigned, four of them were members of the State Cabinet. They had been removed from the position, and relieved of the responsibilities of the same by the Chief Minister Mukul Sangma on grounds of “incompetence”. Former Deputy Chief Minister Rowell Lyngdoh said that it was a difficult decision to leave the Congress, but that he was compelled to do so “because of the people”. Directing his remarks toward the Chief Minister Mukul Sangma, he said, “The autocratic style of the chief minister had made it difficult for me and others to function in the government.”
The balance of power
In consideration of these resignations, as well as the prior resignation of MLA P. N. Syiem of the Congress Party, the number of MLAs from the party, in the 60-member strong Meghalaya Legislative Assembly has fallen from 30 to 24. Yet, there exists no imminent threat to the existing Congress government, due to the support of nine independents which thereby puts the total at 33.
The NPP perspective
At present, the NPP, led by Conrad Sangma (son of former Lok Sabha speaker P. A. Sangma), has two MLAs in the Meghalaya Assembly. Conrad Sangma said that the decision of the five Congress MLAs to resign and join the NPP would be incredibly beneficial in the upcoming elections. He said, “It is a big boost for the NPP ahead of the elections in the state … We will felicitate their joining the party next week. We welcome their decision and we are confident to form the next government in Meghalaya.” He stated that their leaving the Congress and joining the NPP was an indication that the party was the only alternative available to the people in the state.
What lies ahead?
Party sources had stated that all eight legislators are to join the NPP in a public rally in Shillong on January 4th. As an ally of the NDA at the Centre, the NPP is a part of the coalition government led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Manipur, and also one of the constituents of the BJP led North East Democratic Front (NEDA). The BJP launched its poll campaign earlier this month with a rally in Shillong, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged voters to overthrow the Congress rule. However, with respect to the involvement of the NPP in the BJP campaign, NPP President Conrad Sangma said, “We are part of the NDA at the Centre and the BJP-led NEDA in the region. But for this election in Meghalaya, we have decided to go alone and contest most of the 60 seats.” The months leading up to the elections will shed some light and clarity as to whether the NPP will succeed in contesting for the majority, whether the BJP will manage to overthrow the existing rule, or if the Congress will maintain its hold on the north-eastern state of Meghalaya.
Featured Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
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