Meghalaya CM inducts two in cabinet to calm rebellion

Shillong, Aug 26 (IANS) After months of internal bickering in the Congress in Meghalaya, Chief Minister Mukul Sangma on Friday inducted two senior party legislators in his cabinet after sacking two ministers.

The cabinet reshuffle comes ahead of the assembly session, which is to begin on September 9.

Governor V. Shanmuganathan administered the oath of office and secrecy to Martin M. Danggo and Ronnie V. Lyngdoh at a simple function organised in the Raj Bhavan here.

Deputy Chief Minister in-charge Law Rowell Lyngdoh and Health and Family Welfare Minister Alexander Hek resigned on Thursday from the cabinet following directives from Congress President Sonia Gandhi.

Earlier, Sonia Gandhi had deputed Congress leader Mukul Wasnik and Congress General Secretary in-charge C.P. Joshi to firefight and prevent a possible split in the state Congress before the 2018 assembly polls.

The central leadership’s worries have clearly heightened after losing Assam to a BJP-led alliance in assembly elections.

Congress sources said Sonia Gandhi approved the removal of Hek for his “political hobnobbing” with the Bharatiya Janata Party and that of Lyngdoh mainly on account of his old age.

Hek had twice won elections on BJP ticket before joining the Congress.

Meghalaya has a 12-member ministry, including the chief minister. It is for the first time since the Congress-led Meghalaya United Alliance (MUA)-II coalition government assumed power in March 2013 that the cabinet will see new faces.

Mukul Sangma said the purpose of the cabinet reshuffle was to allow more people to get the leadership experience “so that the state can have more leaders”.

He denied that the reshuffle was aimed at putting down the rebellion within the Congress Legislature Party with some legislators demanding his removal.

“There is no dissidence in the party, only grievances expressed by the colleagues,” he stated.

Martin M. Danggo, a senior politician from South West Khasi Hills district, had earlier served as a cabinet minister and assembly Speaker.

Ronnie V. Lyngdoh hails from East Khasi Hills district. It is his first appointment as a minister.

The new ministers said they will help the Chief Minister ensure all-round development in the interest of the people.

“My priority is to ensure speedy implementation of all the development programmes that would be entrusted to me,” Ronnie said.

In the 60-member legislature, the Congress has 30 members and has the support of the Nationalist Congress Party that has two members, one member of the Northeast Democratic Socialist Party and 11 independents.

The opposition Meghalaya People’s Front is made up of eight MLAs of United Democratic Party and two of the National People’s Party.

The Hill State People’s Democratic Party and two independent legislators are not part of the Meghalaya People’s Front.



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