Meghalaya Chief Minister D.D. Lapang submitted his resignation to Governor R.S. Mooshahary on Monday, paving the way for his deputy Mukul M. Sangma to take charge.
Sangma, elected as leader of the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) late Monday night, will be sworn in as the 25th CM since Meghalaya acquired statehood on in April 1970.
The CLP meeting was delayed as inclement weather slowed the return of Lapang, Sangma and other Congress MLAs after a meeting with the party high command in Delhi.
Political instability in Meghalaya has seen eight CMs coming and going in the past 12 years. Only two CMs have completed five-year terms since the state was formed.
The Congress-led ruling alliance has a comfortable majority of 44 in the 60-member assembly, though the Congress has 28 MLAs of its own. Its partners are the United Democratic Party with 10 MLAs and six others, including three Independents.
“I wish my successor a fruitful stint,” Lapang said after submitting his resignation. “I am a loyal party worker and will play any role the party deems fit for me.”
Sangma, known to be a Lapang loyalist, is a four-time MLA from Ampatigiri assembly constituency. More importantly, he is believed to be the Congress counter to Nationalist Congress Party veteran and former Lok Sabha Speaker Purno A. Sangma in the Garo Hills half of Meghalaya. This Garo tribe-inhabited half has a traditional ambivalent relationship with the other
half dominated by Khasi-Jaintia tribes.
Trouble began for Lapang a month ago after some Congress MLAs wanted him to drop three Independents and the lone regional party (KHNAM) MLA from the Cabinet. Lapang declined, saying he could not betray “friends” who helped him form the Congress-led Meghalaya United Alliance (MUA) government.
The Independents and some regional party MLAs had broken away from the NCP-backed Meghalaya Progressive Alliance to help Lapang cobble together the MUA government on March 19, 2008 after voters delivered a fractured verdict in the assembly elections that year.