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No majority but Lapang sworn in as CM

Acting Governor SS Sidhu overlooks the numerically eligible MPA to invite DD Lapang of the Congress to form the Govt in Meghalaya, report Rahul Karmakar and Syed Sajjad Ali.
Hindustan Times | By Rahul Karmakar/Syed Sajjad Ali, Guwahati/agartala
UPDATED ON MAR 11, 2008 03:14 AM IST

Heartland politics of the Bihar-Jharkhand brand was played out in culturally antipodal Meghalaya on Monday with acting governor SS Sidhu “overlooking” the numerically eligible Meghalaya Progressive Alliance (MPA) to invite DD Lapang of the Congress to form the government.

Congress emerged the single largest party in Meghalaya by bagging 25 of the 59 seats in which Assembly elections were conducted on March 3. The MPA had a total of 31 legislators — 14 of the Nationalist Congress Party, 11 of the United Democratic Party, two of HSPDP, one of KHNAM and two Independents.

“This is murder of democracy,” said NCP general secretary Purno Agitok Sangma after Sidhu invited Lapang to form the governor with the rider to prove majority on the floor of the House within 10 days. Lapang was subsequently sworn in as chief minister at 6.30 pm. The MPA expectedly boycotted the ceremony to protest the governor’s “display of partisan politics”.

Later, Lapang expressed confidence that his party would pass the floor test. “This is unconstitutional since we had twice in three days met the governor in full strength,” MPA Legislature Party leader and UDP president Donkupar Roy told HT from Shillong. “The Congress has obviously been given time to indulge in horse-trading, but this government will not last long because we have committed support from all the MPA constituents.” He added the MPA would go to court against installation of the Lapang government.

Independent legislator Manas Chaudhuri said Monday’s development was somewhat reminiscent of former Bihar governor VC Pande, who in March 2000 had invited the NDA to form the government despite trailing the RJD by a vote in a hung Assembly. Jharkhand governor Syed Sibte Razi had later refused to invite the BJP to form the government despite the latter parading 41 MLAs in the 81-member Assembly.

DAN apprehensive

Meanwhile, the Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN) apprehended the UPA government might pressure governor K Shankaranayanan to keep the Assembly in suspended animation by extending President’s Rule. “We are familiar with what Buta Singh tried to do in Bihar three years ago,” said a senior leader of the Nagaland People’s Front, the single largest party with 26 seats in the 60-member House.

With the support of four Independents and two each from BJP and NCP, the DAN has 34 legislators compared to 23 of the Congress in Nagaland. However, it cannot form the government unless the governor recommends revocation of PR imposed in January.

Tripura CM takes oath

The sixth CPI(M)-led left front ministry assumed office in Tripura on Monday. Governor Dinesh Nandan Sahaya administered swearing in ceremony of Chief Minister Manik Sarkar and 11 ministers at Raj Bhavan on Monday afternoon.

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