Meghalaya, the whirlpool of political instability, is soon likely to have its fourth chief minister in two years since the last assembly election in March 2008.
In 12 years between 1998 and 2010, Meghalaya has had eight chief ministers. And since formation of the state in 1972, only two CMs completed their five-year terms.
Current Chief Minister D.D. Lapang, who assumed office twice since the March 2008 assembly polls yielded a hung verdict, has admitted having lost majority in the Congress Legislature Party. His nemesis this time is Deputy CM Mukul Sangma.
With 28 legislators, the Congress heads the Meghalaya United Alliance (MUA) government. Its partners in the 60-member House are the regional United Democratic Party (10 MLAs), Hill State Peoples’ Democratic Party (2), Khun Hynniewtrep National Awakening Movement (1) and three Independents.
Opposition Nationalist Congress Party has 15 legislators and an Independent.
“There is no denying that Mukul enjoys majority, but resolving the issue (change of guard) is up to the party high command,” Lapang said from New Delhi on Sunday. “As a disciplined Congressman I will abide by my party’s directives. I am prepared to step down for the sake of the party’s unity.”
Lapang rushed to New Delhi on Sunday, a day after 21 Congress MLAs led by Sangma took a flight to meet Congress president Sonia Gandhi. “We have chosen Sangma unanimously as the new leader,” a senior Meghalaya Congress leader said from Shillong.
Sangma could not be contacted but an aide said he was set to be the new CM.
The Congress dissidents wanted Lapang to drop certain non-Congress and Independent legislators from the ministry and replace them with party MLAs. But Lapang resisted the move, arguing he could not remove ‘friends’ who had helped the Congress return to power last year.