Governor invites Conrad Sangma to form govt; PM Modi likely to attend oath ceremony on March 7
Meghalaya governor Phagu Chauhan invited the NPP-led coalition headed by Conrad Sangma to form the next government in the northeastern state
GUWAHATI: Meghalaya governor Phagu Chauhan on Saturday invited the National People’s Party-led coalition headed by Conrad Sangma to form the next government in the northeastern state, a day after a regional party withdrew the support extended by its two MLAs to the NPP-led alliance.
The oath-taking ceremony, which is likely to be attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah, will take place at the Raj Bhavan in Shillong on March 7. The swearing-in of the new cabinet will also take place on the same day.
“I have received a letter from the Governor inviting me to form the government,” Sangma told reporters after meeting Chauhan. “The swearing in will take place on March 7 at 11 am in Raj Bhavan.”
Earlier in the day, NPP legislator Timothy D Shira was sworn in by the governor as the pro-tem speaker of the new assembly. The 77-year-old legislator from Resubelpara is the oldest among all new MLAs.
The coalition that has staked a claim to form the government boasts of the support of 32 legislators—one more than the majority mark of 31 in the 60-member assembly. Those supporting the coalition are 26 MLAs from the NPP, two from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), two from the Hill State Peoples Democratic Party (HSPDP) and two Independent legislators.
The governor’s invitation to Sangma to form the government came a day after the HSPDP, in dramatic turn of events, withdrew the support extended by its two legislators to the NPP-led coalition.
Despite extending their support to Sangma, the two MLAs of the regional party attended a meeting by those opposed to the NPP-led alliance on Friday. In the meeting, newly elected legislators and leaders of United Democratic Party (UDP), Congress, Trinamool Congress (TMC), HSPDP, People’s Democratic Front (PDF) and Voice of People Party (VPP) got together in Shillong to form a united front and prevent the NPP from returning to power.
In the recently concluded Meghalaya assembly polls, the UDP won 11 seats, Congress and TMC five each, VPP four, HSPDP two and the PDF two, taking their tally to 29, falling short of the simple majority mark by two seats.
On Friday evening, the HSPDP wrote to NPP chief Sangma, claiming it did not authorise the party MLAs to support formation of an NPP-led government.
“HSPDP didn’t authorize the two MLAs — Methodius Dkhar and Shakliar Warjri — to lend support to the formation of your government as we have seen through press/media report,” read the letter signed by HSPDP president KP Pangniang and secretary Panborlang Ryntathiang.
“The party (HSPDP) has no role in this affair and therefore withdraws support to your party…effective from today,” read the letter, a copy of which has been sent to the governor. HT has seen the letter.
However, commenting on the development on Saturday, Conrad Sangma said: “That is the political party that has sent the letter, but it is the legislature party and the MLAs that have given the letter of support to us.”
There were also allegations of attacks on the houses and offices of the two HSPDP legislators by party workers, who protested against the MLAs extending support to NPP. Two pressure groups — Hynniewtrep Youth Council (HYC) and Hynniewtrep Integrated Territorial Council (HITO) — held a protest, urging the HSPDP MLAs to pull back support to NPP, people familiar with the development said.
“It is unfortunate that this kind of incident has happened. It is also sad... I am sure people of Meghalaya are not with this kind of behaviour,” Sangma told reporters. “It is completely unacceptable. Steps are being taken to ensure there is no violence.”
While organisations and NGOs may have their concerns and issues, the MLAs have been elected by the people and it is for them to decide whom they want to support, Sangma added.
“Sentiments may be there, but the democratic process needs to be followed and has been followed,” he said. “It is not about communities or personalities. We should all accept the mandate of the people.”
Having led an alliance government from 2018 to 2023, Sangma said it is always challenging to run a coalition government. “But we will do our best to ensure all the partners are given space and there is consultancy when important decisions are made,” he added.
Besides Meghalaya, PM Modi is also scheduled to attend the oath-taking ceremony in Nagaland on March 7 and in Tripura the following day.
While the BJP won 32 seats in the 60-member assembly in Tripura, the party has stormed to power in Nagaland in alliance with its senior ally the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) together winning 37 out of the 60 seats.