The five Congress MLAs who resigned on Friday had earlier rebelled against chief minister Mukul Sangma and the party leadership.
Guwahati: In a major setback for the ruling Congress Party in the frontier state of Meghalaya, five of their MLAs resigned their membership of the state Assembly to join National People’s Party (NPP) just a few months before the state goes to polls. Three other MLAs, including one from UDP and two independents, also resigned from the state legislature to join NPP.
The NPP, led by Conrad K. Sangma, son of former Lok Sabha Speaker P.A. Sangma, has two MLAs in Meghalaya at present. NPP is an alliance partner of the BJP in the Manipur government.
The five Congress MLAs who resigned on Friday had earlier rebelled against chief minister Mukul Sangma and the party leadership. Four of the five MLAs were part of the state Cabinet and were sacked by the chief minister on grounds of “incompetence”.
The eight legislators who resigned their membership in the state Assembly included Siaw-bhalang Dhar (Nartiang), Comingone Ymbon (Rali-ang), Hopeful Bamon (Sutnga Saipung), Steph-anson Mukhim (Amla-rem), Prestone Tynsong (Pynursula), Remington Pyngrope (Mawkynriew), Rowell Lyngdoh (Mawky-rwat) and Ngaitlang Dhar (Umroi).
Veteran Congress leader and former deputy chief minister Rowell Lyngdoh, who is amongst the five MLAs who quit the Congress, announced that all the eight MLAs would join the NPP at a rally on January 4.
The setback follows speculation that the Congress, led by chief minister Mukul Sangma, was contemplating major changes in the selection of candidates for state elections.
Though the chief minister downplayed the desertion, claiming that it wouldn’t affect the prospects of the Congress in the upcoming Assembly elections, sources in the party admitted that it is certainly going to dampen the mood of party workers.
With Friday’s resignations, which come days after another MLA, P.N. Syiem, had quit the Congress, the number of party MLAs in the 60-member Meghalaya Assembly has come down to 24 from 30. However, there is no immediate threat to the Congress government as it has support of nine Independents, which takes its tally to 33.
The term of the current House expires on March 6. Elections in Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura are due early next year.
Mr Conard K. Sangma, NPP chief and MP from Tura Lok Sabha constituency, exuded confidence about winning the forthcoming Assembly elections in Meghalaya.
Referring to how his party has succeeded in making its presence felt in Manipur elections by winning four seats and bagging the post of deputy chief minister with BJP, he said, “We are confident of forming the government by winning maximum number of seats for the party from the Khasi and Jaintia hills region of the state.” He, however, remained tight-lipped about legislators resigning from the Congress to join NPP.