Meghalaya chief minister Mukul Sangma on Tuesday dropped four dissident ministers and found replacements for three of them from the same camp, which has been demanding his ouster.
The CM claimed he had the Congress central leadership’s approval for a cabinet reshuffle when he met governor R S Mooshahary after returning from New Delhi on Monday.
The reshuffle saw dropping of four ministers – Prestone Tynsong, Augustine D Marak, FW Momin and FS Cajee – and induction of Alexander L Hek, Shitlang Pale, SW Rymbai and Saleng Sangma.
Except Rymbai, the other new inductees turned up at the Raj Bhavan for the swearing-in. Rymbai, party insiders said, belonged to the dissident camp (as did Hek and Saleng Sangma) and was very much in Shillong unlike 15 other dissident MLAs camping in New Delhi.
“Rymbai is unwell. One should not get ideas from his absence today,” said the CM. However, a Raj Bhavan official said arrangements were made for all the four new ministers “after confirmation of their presence at the function”. Rymbai could not be reached for comment.
A senior Congress leader handling Meghalaya said the party central leadership was not keen on giving in to the dissidents since removing Sangma “does not guarantee an end to leadership crisis” in the state.
Sangma is the fourth CM since the 2008 assembly election, having replaced veteran Congress leader DD Lapang last year.
The dissidents — they claim the support of 18 of the 28 Congress MLAs in the 60-member House — now want Lapang back in the hot seat. Most of them had helped Sangma script a coup against Lapang.
The Congress is the largest constituent in the Meghalaya United Alliance government, with four regional parties and independents. However, internal squabbles have often hurt the Congress more than the 16-member opposition led by the Nationalist Congress Party.