The Congress government in instability-prone Meghalaya appears to have checked the “forces of destabilisation”, including the BJP, though dissidents hope the AICC takes a call on their demand for a change of leadership.
Chief minister Mukul Sangma is expected to reshuffle his ministry to placate some of the dissidents.
Trouble for Sangma began after his wife, Dikkanchi D Shira, lost the by-election for the Tura Lok Sabha seat last month. Former chief ministers DD Lapang and Salseng C Marak then teamed up to allegedly lead a rebellion against Sangma’s “dictatorial style” of functioning.
Lapang, also the state Congress president, is a four-time chief minister. His last stint ended after Sangma replaced him mid-term in 2010. Marak is the only one to have completed his term (1993-98) since Meghalaya’s statehood in 1972.
“It is not a question of dissidence but of grievances blown out of proportion because of certain disconnect or rumours that I was quitting and changing party,” Sangma told HT.
“There is no threat to our government, but we are vigilant because there have been instances of involvement of various forces, including the BJP, in destabilisation of the Congress government,” he added. “Having seen what happened in Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, we are insulating ourselves from forces out to create instability.”
However, Lapang denied meeting BJP leaders, including Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma — who is tasked with expanding the saffron footprint in the seven-state Northeast.
“As party president, my responsibility is to keep the house in order. We will accept whatever decision the high command takes,” Lapang said. His loyalists declined to disclose the size of the dissident camp.
Congress has 30 MLAs in the 60-member Meghalaya assembly, and the support of 11 independent and two Nationalist Congress Party legislators.
“It is not unusual for a government to come across rumble strips. With guidance from the central leadership, we are capable of resolving issues and grievances internally,” Sangma said.
Congress is also grappling with dissent in Tripura, with seven of its 10 MLAs expected to join the Trinamool Congress.
Senior Trinamool leader Mukul Roy, on a visit to Agartala, was not specific but said the state would witness a “poriborton [change]” within two days. He said this after meeting the Congress rebels.
The seven Congress MLAs, led by Sudip Roy Barman, revolted after Congress and the Left Front struck a poll deal in West Bengal. The Left Front is Congress’ main rival in Tripura.
With inputs from Priyanka Deb Barman in Agartala