Meghalaya Chief Minister DD Lapang submitted his resignation to Governor RS Mooshahary on Monday evening, paving the way for his deputy Mukul M Sangma.
Sangma, elected the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader late Monday night, will be sworn in as the 25th CM since Meghalaya became an autonomous state on 2 April 1970.
The CLP meeting had to be delayed as inclement weather slowed the return of Lapang, Sangma and other Congress MLAs after a meeting with the party High Command in New Delhi.
Lapang had on Sunday met AICC president Sonia Gandhi and submitted his resignation as the CLP leader. He became Meghalaya's CM for five brief terms, the first time in 1972. His last stint began on 12 May 2009.
Sangma, known to be a Lapang loyalist, is a four-time MLA from Ampatigiri Assembly constituency. More importantly, he is believed to the Congress counter to the NCP's 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 for Lapang began brewing more than a month back after some Congress MLAs wanted him to drop three Independents and a lone regional party (KHNAM) legislator from the Cabinet. Lapang declined, saying he could not betray "friends" who helped him form the Congress-led Meghalaya United Alliance (MUA) government.
Other than 28 Congress MLAs, Lapang's MUA had 10 of United Democratic Party, two of Hill State Peoples Democratic Party, one of Khun Hynniewtrep National Awakening Movement (KHNAM) and three Independents.
The Independents and some of the regional party MLAs had broken away from the NCP-backed Meghalaya Progressive Alliance to help Lapang cobble up the MUA. The MUA had formed the government on 19 March 2008 after Lapang was CM for 10 days posts a fractured verdict in the Assembly elections that year.